Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) president Dr. Nirmal Dewasiri said that the academics wished enter into a new contract with the government in order to solve key problems which they face such as lack autonomy, academic freedom and resources and salary anomalies.
He said that there was to be a crucial meeting on Thursday with Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga to discuss at length the problems faced by the academics. Mr. Weeratunga had met the academics last Tuesday. He had admitted that the grievances of the academics were legitimate and also promised to forward them to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“We will go to the meeting with an open mind. It is not only the salary issue we intend raising; there are a number of other demands as well. We also want to solve these problems but the government, especially the Higher Education Ministry, should have a positive approach if they are keen on solving them,” he said. Academics from all state universities except Kelaniya and Uva Wellasssa launched their strike last Wednesday bringing work at the universities to a near standstill.
Dr. Dewasiri said the AGM of Kelaniya University would be held on Wednesday, and that after that FUTA expected them also to join in the trade union action.
He said that the Law Faculties will also join them within the next few days. The Peradeniya Medical Faculty, the Sri Jayawardenapura Medical Faculty and the Rajarata Medical Faculty have also struck work in conjunction with FUTA.
The Faculty of Medicine Teachers’ Association (FMTA) also said that they supported the demands and acknowledged the grievances of FUTA but that they would not join the strike. However they said they would be compelled to take trade union action if authorities failed to solve the problems of the academics.
BY SUPUN DIAS
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka