Bandula Eraka Fernando, who died at the age of 46 on April 19, 1996, was the livewire honorary secretary of the Irrigation Engineering Diplomates’ Association, known earlier as the Irrigation Technical Assistants’ Union.
“BE”, as he was fondly called, was the third in a family of four, and son of the late Dr. Walter Fernando (AMP) and Maisey Jayawickrama of Nupe, Matara.
BE joined the Irrigation Department in 1969 as a trainee technical officer, with 240 others. It was the largest batch of trainees recruited in the department’s 69-year history. The trade union of which BE was a member had resorted to a 42-day strike action to ensure permanent appointments for all 240 trainees. Participation in the trade union action, at the very inception of his career, had a profound influence on BE. He had great faith in the union, and became its secretary in 1994.
He was about 20 years my junior, in age and in the department. However, we associated closely, especially when the union and he sought my assistance in 1995 to resolve a service problem. We travelled the length and breadth of Sri Lanka in the two years after organising the membership for action.
He was loyal, committed and ready for any sacrifice for the union. These same qualities were his hallmark as a family- man and friend. His portly frame hid a heart of gold and a gentle nature.
BE worked very hard for the union. Unfortunately, he did not live to see and enjoy the fruit of his efforts.
Nissanka de Silva,
Former President, Irrigation
Technical Assistants’ Union and
Government Technical Officers’ Trade Union Federation.