Railway strike from
By Nirmala Kannangara
Railway service will be hampered for 24
hours from midnight today (14), the Joint
Railway Services Trade Union Front (JRSTUF)
The Government's failure to address the
grievances faced by the railway employees
was the result of the proposed one day token
strike and according to the JRSTUF more than
10,000 railway employees are to join the
"Although Railways Minister Dulles
Alahapperuma was keen on solving the issues
faced by the railway employees the delay in
resolving the issue was because of the
lethargy of the Salaries and Cadre
Commission, the Public Service Commission,
the Treasury and the Ministry of Public
Administration," Secretary, JRSTUF Sampath
Rajitha told The Sunday Leader.
According to Rajitha, the Salaries and Cadre
Commission for the past few years has failed
to rectify the salary anomalies faced by the
railway employees and the Treasury's failure
to allocate money for the distress loan
"The railway employees since July 2007 were
unable to obtain distress loans, an
entitlement, as the Treasury had not
released funds. How can the government say
that it does not have money to pay distress
loans when the government is spending money
unnecessarily? Apart from this the Public
Administrations Department has failed to pay
the railway employees the disturbance
allowance. Why do government departments
inconvenience employees so much," queried
Accusing the Salaries and Cadre Commission
for their lethargic attitude in resolving
the salary issues in government departments
Rajitha said that most of the public sector
unrest was due to the sluggish approach of
the Salaries Commission.
"The sole responsibility for public sector
agitation should borne by the Salaries and
Cadre Commission. The proposed one day token
strike starting tonight would hinder 60% of
the railway service tomorrow and in the
event the said government departments fail
to address our demands at the earliest we
would be compelled to take stern trade union
action in the weeks to come," said Rajitha.
Govt. says it is
committed to a political settlement
The Sri Lankan government last week
reaffirmed its commitment to a political
settlement and said the military engagement
was purely to eliminate terrorism.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama in an
interview to The Hindu newspaper last week
said that subjugation of people by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a
terrorist organisation cannot be tolerated.
"Democracy is the only answer we have for
sustainable peace, and terrorism in the
hands of the LTTE has to be eliminated in
order to sustain that progress for the
people of the island as a whole."
The Minister had also said that the
negotiations between the government and the
LTTE ended in a failure, as the latter was
not committed to the peace process.
He had also commented on the humanitarian
situation in the north.
"We are monitoring the situation on a daily
basis and taking every meaningful step
towards minimising the inconveniences that
the community is experiencing," he had said.
"We are doing everything in the north to
facilitate their daily life. We know it is
not normal. But these are interim phases
that one has to go through. The government
is very mindful of protecting civilian
population. We do not want them to be
falling into the hands of the LTTE, who take
them in order to mobilise, or in order to
seek protection out of them for the LTTE-hideouts."
MR rules out early
President Mahinda Rajapakse has ruled out
the possibility of an early presidential
The President is legally entitled to call
for a presidential election after completing
four years in office and will be entitled to
do so in November 2009.
However the President has last week informed
party seniors and senior Presidential
Advisor Basil Rajapakse he does not intend
to curtail his first term by two years and
that the SLFP should prepare for a general
election, which is due by April 2010.
Rajapakse has said the people elected him
for a six year term and he intends to honour
The President had stated this position after
he was urged by party seniors to hold the
presidential election before a parliamentary
election to capitalise on his personal
popularity as opposed to that of the UPFA,
which will be tested at a general election.
UN staff prevented from
moving out of Wanni
UN and staff from other relief agencies have
been prevented from moving out of the Wanni
by public protests blocking the roads, UN
No UN staff was able to move to Vavuniya in the
past two days due to the protests.
“Our staff has been blocked by peaceful
protestors,” UN spokesperson Gordon Weiss
told The Sunday Leader. The protestors had
handed over a list of concerns, Weiss added.
“We have undertaken to pass the concerns to the
Secretary General which we have done.” He
said that UN agencies were in discussions
with the protestors and organizers of the
protests in an attempt to secure passage to
UN staff out of Wanni.
Protests erupted near UN offices and on the A9
at Kilinochchci and Murgunandi about 10 km
south on the A9 on September 11, preventing
convoys of vehicles from UN and other relief
agencies from moving south. The protestors
had begun gathering near the offices from
6.00 am on Friday morning. The relief agencies had began
relocation the day before on September 11
following a government directive on
The government said that the Tigers were
preventing UN and NGOs from moving out of
the Vanni and had ordered them not to remove
heavy vehicles and machinery out of the
“According to informed sources, LTTE has issued
terrifying notices to officials of the
organizations, not to remove their vehicles
and equipments if they leave Wanni,” the
Defence Ministry said and added that there
was a possibility that the Tigers may not
allow the heavy vehicles and machinery to be
The Defence Ministry has said that the Tigers
were using the heavy machinery to build
bunkers and earth bunds in the Vanni.
“The LTTE is believed to have used some of
the INGO vehicles to construct defences and
dig trenches stretching as far as 20km to
prevent the Army from advancing.” Earlier
it said that 38 vehicles belonging to
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) was
commandeered by the Tigers. Though requests
were made by the NGO to the Tigers to
release the vehicles, it is not clear
whether they were returned to the NPA.
Meanwhile the Tigers accused the government
was paving the way for genocide quoting
letters handed over to UN organizations by
protesting civilian organizations.
“Several appeals were handed to the UN
resident representatives by Civilian Based
Organizations as well as Teacher
Associations. The appeals mostly said that
the Sri Lankan Government is ordering the
international agencies out as it readies for
the final stage of the genocide of the
Tamils,” the Tiger Peace Secretariat said.
The protestors had told UN officials in
Kilinochchi that the presence of
international agencies was essential not
only to look after the humanitarian needs
but also for the protection of the
Strong winds to last a
few more days
By Shezna Shums
Strong winds that are currently being
experienced in the country will persist for
a few more days due to the cyclone close to
Taiwan and the Philippines.
Deputy Director, Sri Lanka Meteorology
Department, S.R. Jayasekera told The Sunday
Leader that although Taiwan is not close to
Sri Lanka the cyclone's effects were being
felt in the island.
The winds over the island are feeding into
the cyclone that is closer to Taiwan and the
Civilians in Kilinochchi hold protest
Civilians in Kilinochchi held a protest on
Friday against the relocation of
humanitarian organisations, sources said.
The civilians had organised the protest last
Friday to urge the humanitarian agencies not
to leave the Wanni and relocate elsewhere.
Sources said protests were also reported
from Murugandi, where the civilians had
blocked the road, stopping the flow of
traffic on the A9 road.
It was also reported that a few agencies in
the Wanni had left the area on Friday.
The humanitarian agencies working in the
Wanni were asked to relocate by the
government, citing security threats.