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* Train engine drivers end strike, services return to normal from today
Thu, Sep 14, 2023, 10:02 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Public Service Commission given two weeks to recommend solutions to strikers’ issues

Sept 14, Colombo: The strike launched by the Locomotive Operating Engineers’ Association based on several demands has been called off following discussions with Railway authorities.

The Union has informed the General Manager of Railways W.A.D.S. Gunasinghe that the two-day strike ended yesterday and the striking train drivers will return to work today.

Accordingly, the trains will operate as usual, the railway authorities informed.

Due to the two-day strike, train traffic was disrupted and passengers were severely inconvenienced resulting in the death of two passengers after they had fallen from a crowded trains.

Following a request made by Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued an extraordinary gazette Tuesday evening declaring Sri Lanka Railways an essential service.

Following the declaration, the Railway Department ordered the striking train engine drivers to return to work immediately and informed that if they failed they will be considered as having vacated their respective posts.

Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media, meanwhile said the Public Service Commission will submit the necessary recommendations within two weeks to the Cabinet Subcommittee on Public Expenditures for the next steps to be followed to resolve the problems of the striking train drivers.

Minister Gunawardena said the Cabinet Subcommittee on Public Expenditure met Wednesday under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to discuss the train drivers’ demands. The General Manager of Railways and other senior officials also have been called for the discussion.

“This is not a task that can be done by the minister or the cabinet within their jurisdiction, and for that, the Public Service Commission was given two weeks to come up with a solution that would not affect other services in the public sector,” the Minister said.

“Politicians cannot act against the constitution and laws of the country. Everyone should respect the Constitution and the common law. The power of the Public Service Commission cannot be changed by a Cabinet Subcommittee. Therefore, two weeks’ time has been given to the commission to take the necessary measures in this regard.”

The Minister said he has presented the necessary facts to do all that can be done as the minister in charge of the subject. For that, there is no possibility of doing anything by force except according to the existing law of the country. “When working as a government, it is not possible to act like village bullies. These decisions were taken by a cabinet sub-committee consisting of government officials headed by the Prime Minister," the minister added.


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