While assuring that the salary anomalies of the teachers would be resolved before January next year, the Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha yesterday called on the teacher unions which have planned a strike on October 29 and 30 to call it off and cooperate with the government.
Minister Premajayantha told a press conference yesterday that a solution to the issue regarding anomalies should be based on the recommendations of the Salaries and Cadre Committee that is appointed to look into the anomalies of the entire state sector. He said the final report of this committee is due before December 31 this year and the matter would be resolved soon after.â€œWe appeal to the teacher unions to bear with us for a short period for the sake of the children,â€ he said.
The Minister said he has done his best to resolve the matter and had several rounds of discussions with the trade unions to resolve the matter. â€œThere is no other Minister in the cabinet who had talked to the trade unions as I have,â€ he said. He said the teacher unions had a discussion with Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake and himself earlier this week and they promised to take up the matter in the cabinet and it was taken up as promised at the Wednesdayâ€™s cabinet meeting. According to the Minister the cabinet has decided to wait till the Salaries and cadres report is out. However he said the government is ready to talk with the unions at any time.
He was of the opinion that the unions should tolerate as there a host of other serious problems faced by the country at the moment such as the security situation and the unrest in Sabaragamuwa and Peradeniya Universities.
The Minister assured that the government would not neglect the education sector as the funds allocated for the sector has been increased from Rs 65 billion in 2007 to Rs 91 billion in 2008. The country has been spending 2.9% from the GDP in 2007 for education while it has planned to spend 3.1% in 2008.
By Yohan Perera