Retrenchment is price paid when governments change
By Frances Bulathsinghala
With employees of State owned institutions either being retrenched or barred from reporting to work more than 350 employees are having to face an uncertain future regarding their employment.

The State Plantations Corporation, Lake House and the Ceylon Transport Board are among the institutions where the down sizing of staff has occurred.

Nearly one hundred and seventy employees of the Ceylon Transport Board have been stopped from reporting to work and these employees have taken this matter to courts having filed legal action.

Meanwhile the rush for retrenchment, on some pretext or the other, in State institutions has had its repercussions with death fasts launched last week by employees of the State Plantations Corporation (SPC) and the Janatha Estate Development Board (JEDB) in a bid to get back the one hundred and ninety three jobs that have been lost to them.

One hundred and sixty five from the plantations and twenty eight workers from the JEDB head office are among those whose employment has been terminated with effect from this month.

The employees of these two institutions say they are prepared to continue the fast unto death till their just demand is met. The Sunday Times learns that another twenty JEDB employees are to be retrenched from June 30 and that they have been served with notices of termination.

Meanwhile on Friday two of the fasting employees were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital in a very weakened condition as a result of the seven day fast.

However at a meeting held last Friday with senior officials of the JEDB including the Chairman Chula Delgoda, the General Manager D. T. Cruz told the representatives of the retrenched employees that those whose employment was terminated could not be recalled to work as the JEDB was already overstaffed and said the termination of employment was not discriminatory as an employee who had joined during the Peoples Alliance regime and worked as secretary to the Chairman had also been asked to go.

An employee spokesman said the retrenched employees have formed an association to better highlight their cause and that some of them had joined the JEDB some three years ago after the formality of being subjected to interview board.

The employees who have lost their jobs in the State Plantations Corporation include executives, clerks and labourers, with the most being from among the labourers.

According to J. Jayanethi, an assistant manager at the JEDB who heads the JEDB's and State Plantations Corporation's Retrenched Workers Association, the termination notice served to some of the employees had been without the customary one month's notice.

"Most of the employees were served with the letters of termination to vacate their post immediately. We made several attempts to meet the Plantations Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa but was told that it was not possible to do so", Mr. Jayanethi said.

"In some cases the employees had only four days more to complete the one year probationary period before being confirmed in their job", an office assistant who had joined on May 21 last year, Gayan Yapa said.

"We explained to General Manager D. T. Cruz who had signed our letters of termination that our appointments were made after being successfully interviewed by an interview board, but the GM justified his action saying that he is unable to go above the Minister", he said.

Meanwhile the co-ordinating Secretary to the Plantation Ministry Aquila Wijesinghe when contacted said, "there was nothing the Ministry could do as all the employees were recruited by the previous government and on political grounds'.

Mr. Wijesinghe when asked to further clarify the matter, stated that it was better left to be tackled by the Minister. Plantations Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa however was not available for comment.

Top  Back to News  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.