ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Lightning hike for engineers

CEB financial crisis no bar

By Shelani Perera

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) hit by a financial crisis for several years, has obtained approval for special allowances to be paid to engineers amidst protests from other CEB trade unions in the Board. A ministerial directive issued on Wednesday brought an end months of a non-cooperation action by the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU), but other unions are opposing the move.

The Government had agreed to pay engineers several allowances such as post graduate degree allowance, professional allowance and disturbance allowance.Earlier the CEBEU refrained from attending any technical evaluation committee meetings as part of the non cooperation action.

The CEBEU said the subject of allowances had been discussed for the last four years and all the authorities the CEBEU met had agreed that those allowances should be revised to give them a meaning in the present context, and to create a conducive environment to enable the CEB to carry out its duties.

This agreement was reached at a meeting the CEBEU had with Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeeratunge and Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera.

When the CEB Board requested time to work out the financial implications of paying these allowances, Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne summoned the Board and issued a directive under Section 8 (1) of the CEB Act of 1969 to pay all allowances requested by the engineers. The minister can issue such a “Section 8 Directive” only on matters concerning national interest, according to the CEB Act.

Accordingly, the CEB Board had approved the allowances at a special Board meeting and the General Manager has issued the relevant circular No. 2007/GM/13/Pers dated 29-08-2007. The following allowances are paid from 01-09-2007 under this circular:
Post Graduate Allowance: All engineers having post graduate qualifications at Master’s and Doctorate level will receive an additional 10% to 20% of their salary monthly.

Professional Allowance: Executive grade employees with full professional qualifications will be paid between 10% to 20% of their salary as professional allowance. Disturbance Allowance: All eligible engineers will receive 20% of their salary as Disturbance Allowance.

In addition to the new allowances approved under the circular, eligible engineers also receive other allowances presently, such as Project Allowance (1/3 of salary) and Generation Allowance (1/3 of salary paid to all engineers in the Generation Division, irrespective of the job or work station). As a result, there are several senior engineers who will receive all of these allowances. For example, there are some engineers who will receive Post Graduate Allowance, Professional Allowance, Disturbance Allowance and Project Allowance, making the total of their monthly allowances equal to nearly 100% of their salary.

However, Minister Seneviratne said the extra sum to be paid was not that much. Following Wednesday’s directive it was agreed that the CEBEU will call off the ongoing trade union action and cooperate with the Ministry and the CEB management to carry out its work.

According to the minister the Government felt that professionals should be recognized and thus a directive was implemented to increase the allowance. The minister said a majority of the trade unions had not opposed the granting of the allowance.“The unions which opposed are those which are politically backed. No union can make any demand which is unjustifiable neither can we be held to ransom. In this case it was a policy matter, a directive made on principle,” he said.

Meanwhile CEBEU President Ananda Piyathilake told The Sunday Times that the present financial crisis the CEB was facing was created by other factors.“It was caused by giving concessions to the people, rather than recovering the cost from the people who consume power. The Government has a choice to burden the people who consume power or charge from everybody. It chooses to burden everybody,” he said.Mr. Piyatilake justified the revision of allowances, saying it was long overdue.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.