02 June 2011 / By L.B. Senaratne
The Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter the Most Venerable Tibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala thera yesterday said, in reference to the trade union action taken by the university academics, that the promises given to learned professionals should be honoured and university lecturers and professors should not be suppressed like university students are.
He further said that the problems concerning learned people should be dealt in a learned manner. He pointed out that academics could easily go to other countries for better salaries and perquisites if their problems were not solved.
The venerable thera was speaking to a delegation from the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) led by its vice president Dr. Ananda Wijesundera of the Faculty
of Medicine of the University of Peradeniya that had called on him in Kandy yesterday to explain to him the situation that had arisen in the universities of the country and the trade union action taken by university academics.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation of university academics, the Venerable Professor Hanguranketa Dheerananda thera said that they had never asked for a salary increase and that it had been the minister himself who had suggested that their salaries should be increased. The thera said that, if these university academics were merely seeking money, they could leave the country and earn much more elsewhere. The thera also told the Mahnayake that the heads of departments were only paid Rs.1000 for voluntary work.
The vice president of the Federation Dr. Ananda Wijesundera, explaining their position to the Mahnayake thera, said that they were not on strike, but rather they had moved out of the administrative work which they had been engaged in in the university setup. He told the Mahanayake thera that if they were only interested in making money alone they could move out of the country and make much more money. He also said that they had for the present released themselves from the voluntary administrative work they had been engaged in at the University.
Dr.Wijesundera further said that if they wished they could easily find work abroad for much better salaries and better facilities. He said that they were more concerned about the future of the students and that was why they were working at universities in the country