Business Times

Chaos continues at BOI; staff mulling ‘serious’ union action

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

Unionised staff of the country’s investment promotion agency, the Board of Investment (BOI) is mulling a major strike to stop the messy restructuring programme which began on Monday while the chaotic order of things still continues at the BOI, according to BOI union officials. But executives say that this could be resolved next week.

“Still the management has not held discussions with us and we are discussing serious union action,” Sujeewa Subasinghe, President Union for the Protection of the BOI told the Business Times. He said that the 400 members of his union were briefed about this and other BOI staff is also aware of this.

“We successfully carried out a picketing on February 8, at 12 noon to show our displeasure over this near the Lake house. We are giving some time to the authorities to respond (as there were holidays on Wednesday and Thursday). By next week we’ll decide on the appropriate action,” he said.

He said as a start they may carry out a half a day or a day’s work stoppage. He noted that as a first step of the restructuring, three major BOI departments – Promotions, Investments and Monitoring were to be amalgamated in a bid to focus on the nine thrust sectors that the BOI has identified to give priority to, while these three departments and staff relating to the thrust sectors were to be shifted to the 24th floor of the World Trade Centre (WTC). “Since Monday, this floor has been on auto strike without any work being done,” he said.

Another BOI employee said that wooden partitions in the 26th floor of the BOI were being demolished on Friday and the plan seems to be to house some of the 90 staff in Promotions, Investments and Monitoring departments (who were to be put in 24th floor) on this floor.

“All staff in these departments and those who were to shift to the 24th floor do not see eye to eye on the places they were allocated. There’s chaos right now on the 24th floor,” an employee said, adding that nobody in these three departments is doing any work. He said that the BOI is currently not accepting any fresh applications as the investor incentives are not ‘clear’.

Jayampathi Bandaranayake, Director General BOI was uncontactable, but a senior BOI executive told the Business Times that each floor at BOI can house some 140 staff. The 9th floor for an example has only Human Resources and Administration. “Altogether the entire nine floors at BOI have only 350 staff. It’s criminal to waste space like this and this is the main reason BOI is trying to reduce some space,” he said.

He said the BOI pays Rs 20 million annually to maintain each floor at the WTC and shrinking this space to about five floors will be a Rs 100 million cost saving. Last week Mr Bandaranayake told the Business Times that they have no intention to cut staff.

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