The Sunday Leader

Academics To Decide Next Step

By Nirmala Kannangara

Following the successful one-day token strike by the university academics last week, the Federation of the University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) is to decide the next course of trade union action soon, Assistant Secretary of FUTA Dr Harini Amarasuriya said.

Amarasuriya alleged that the Higher Education Ministry had failed to stick to their word and it continues to give the Research and Development allowance as part of the university academic’s salary.

“The Higher Education Minister promised the Research and Development allowance as part of our salary, there is no way the Ministry can allow this allowance audited. We want to find out in which country in the world a salary is audited?” said Dr Amarasuriya. She further said that their attempt to solve the matter over the last two years has not worked as it continued to administer as a research grant.

“This allowance is subjected to a monitoring mechanism. Because our basic salary cannot be raised, the Minister assured us that this allowance is given as part of the salary. If that allowance component is being audited that cannot be considered as part of your salary,” said Dr Amarasuriya.

According to Dr Amarsuriya, there are many conditions and regulations that have to be followed when getting the research grant and said that this grant is given not only to university academia but also to several other higher government officials as well.

“We have no problem of research grants being awarded to anyone under any condition. They have to be scrutinized and followed the necessary regulations.
But we cannot allow them to scrutinize the allowance given to us in order to solve the long standing salary issue. If so, this is not a salary increase but merely a research allowance. We never took a trade union action seeking a research allowance but a salary hike. Although Minister S.B. Dissanayake promised this allowance as a salary increase, he has now forgotten the promise,” she added.

When asked how confident she is that their future trade union action would be successful like the 2012 general strike, Dr. Amarsuriya said that their membership has taken a unanimous decision to go for a trade union action to win the demands.

All attempts to contact Higher Education Ministry Secretary Dr Sunil Navaratne for a comment failed.

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