Strike will continue till demands are met – CEB unions
At least 14,500 employees of the Ceylon Electricity Board are on strike and consumers should not expect any maintenance or repair work to be carried out while the strike continues, CEB trade unions have announced. The strike began on Friday. The strikers are that all CEB workers be given fair and unbiased treatment.
“Workers will be on strike until the Electricity Board increases their salary and promises to stop privatizing Electricity Board depots,” CEB trade union convenor Ranjan Jayalal told the Sunday Times.
Electricity Board depots in Karawella and Galapitamada were to be privatized, but the trade unions have objected strongly. The board has made a statement that the privatization was to be a “pilot project.” The statement also said salaries would be increased this year, pointing out that employees would be getting is “the most significant increment in the history of the CEB.”
The trade unions, however, insist that the “significant” increment – by as much as 38.7 per cent – applied only to CEB executive staff, and not to CEB labour. The unions insist that the Board come up with an “immediate solution” and straighten out the anomalies in CEB salaries.
According to the CEB, the Board met the trade unions on July 6 to discuss the salaries issue, and the unions agreed to give Board time till the first week of November to resolve the issue. By striking, the CEB says, workers have breached their agreement to give the Board another four months to sort out their problems.
Trade union convenor Mr. Jayalal, however, said there was no agreement to suspend the strike till November.
National Movement of Electricity Consumers president Sunil Wimalasooriya said the strike would greatly inconvenience consumers. “The law says the consumer or buyer is guaranteed uninterrupted and satisfactory service. The strike and continuing power cuts violate the Consumer Act,” he said.
“The Government can find a solution, and we expect a solution soon. If there are power breakdowns because of the strike, industries will suffer. “A CEB labourer gets a salary of Rs. 34,000. This is more than what a government doctor is paid. We have nothing against CEB workers caller for a salary increase, but they have no right to hold the general public to ransom with this strike,” Mr. Wimalasooriya said.
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