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10th May 1998

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Postal services back to normal

By S.S.Selvanayagam

Posts Minister Mangala Samaraweera has agreed to the appointment of a cabinet sub-committee to look into the core demand of the postal unions — the removal of Post Mistress General Soma Kotakadeniya.

On this pledge and the minister’s willingness to implement 17 other trade union demands, the Union of Posts and Telegraph Officers (UPTO) from Friday midnight called off its 52-day-long overtime boycott which had plunged the postal service into total chaos.

The tug-of-war between the main postal trade union and the postal department came to an end at talks the minister had on Friday night with the UPTO and seven other postal trade unions.

The decision to call off the trade union action was announced jointly by Minister Samaraweera and UPTO general secretary N. P. Hettiarachchi after talks that lasted three and a half hours at the ministry. The trade union leaders assured normal work at the Central Mail Exchange would be resumed from yesterday and the backlog of tens of thousands of letters and parcels could be cleared by Wednesday. The minister agreed to revoke the Essential Services Regulations after the restoration of normalcy in the postal service..

The minister has also agreed to reinstate the 178 postal officials on whom vacation of post notices had been served. There will be no inquiry but they will have to make an appeal through the trade unions.

Students agitated,but not so authorities

By Chamintha Thilakarathna

A hostel dispute and a clash among students of the Colombo university have been notified to the police but university officials are saying there is no real problem and the issue has been blown out of proportion. Some hundred students of the University of Colombo claim they have been deprived of hostel facilities by the Students Council of the campus to whom officials have handed over the administration of the hostels. “When we went to query this from the students council they threatened us with a gun”, said N. K. Hewawitharana, a spokesperson for the protesting students.

These students have complained to the Cinnamon Gardens police saying they were threatened by another group but the complaint has not been pursued as university officials have not moved in the matter, police said.

“We made a request to the Vice Chancellor to bring in the students who threatened the complainant with a gun in campus for it is not permitted under any circumstance. But he has not responded, Inspector Palitha Panamaldeniya of the Cinnamon Gardens, police said. According to the university’s registrar Jinasena Kumaragamage, there is no such problem. He said, “There is no dispute.”

Mr. Kumaragamage said all administration work in the university was handled by him and denied accusations by students that the administration of the hostels had been handed over to the students council. “The selection to hostels was done by me. The problem we face is we can only give facilities to 60% of the students, which means 2600 students,” he said.

Student knocked down by Minister’s car

By Shane Seneviratne

A ten-year-old student of Getambe Vidyalaya Peradeniya was knocked down on Thursday morning by a senior minister’s car, while the boy was on the crossing monitored by the prefects of the school.

According to sources, Thusitha Asanka Bandara of Gannoruwa, was taken to school by his father and left at the crossing. The minister was heading for the Maligawa to attend the launch of the restoration work on the Maligawa.

The injured boy was admitted to the Kandy hospital by the minister’s security personnel. When a crowd collected at the scene, the minister is reported to have said that he was late for his appointment and left.

Later some of the security personnel had wanted to take away injured boy which was refused by the hospital authorities, sources alleged.

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