FUTA spurns ministry ‘invitation’, vows to carry on strike
A defiant Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) said yesterday it would continue its strike despite an “invitation” from the Higher Education Minister to report to work tomorrow.FUTA spokesman Devaka Weerakoon said they would carry on their strike, until they received a positive response from the government.
He said if the minister wanted to invite the lecturers back to work, the invitation should go to the FUTA president and the lecturers should be informed. “He is simply inviting us to work like inviting us to a party,” he said.
Dr. Weerakoon was referring to the sms news alert which said “All university lecturers who are currently on strike are invited to report to work from 30th July – Higher Education Minister.”
However, he said the striking lecturers were hopeful their talks with Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga would bear fruit. In response, Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Jayantha Nawarathne said the text message was a humble request made by the Ministry taken in the interest of the students who had been affected by the strike action.
He said it was only a request and there would be no consequences if the lecturers did not respond to it.
But he said he hoped that as a responsible organisation, FUTA members would be present in classes tomorrow.
Meanwhile a proposed meeting between the FUTA and Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva did not take place on Monday.
Minister Silva who was to meet FUTA President Nirmal Devasiri to discuss their demands said he was still hopeful that if FUTA officials fix a date and time for the meeting with him, a solution could be worked out.
But a FUTA official said the Minister had told them he would call them and fix an appointment but he did not do so.
Dr. Weerakoon said they would welcome Minister Silva for discussions, but they did not believe he could provide a solution to their problem.