The members of the Railway Technical Services Trade Union Committee (RTSTUC) launched their 48-hour token strike from 4.00 p.m. today.
RTSTUC President P. Sampath Rajitha told Daily Mirror that they had stopped work over several demands including the demand for a 12 per cent salary increase to all 12,000 railway employees. He said it had been earlier granted only to some employees based on favouritism.
“We demand the payment of incentives withheld to employees since 2004,” Mr. Rajitha said.
He said all railway gate-operators, rail-track inspectors, railway operator technicians, compartment connectors and support staff of the train service will refrain from carrying out their duties during the token strike.
Deputy Transport Minister Ashoka Abeysinghe said he had instructed the Railways General Manager to cancel leave of all railway employees and that stern action would be taken against the striking employees.
“Railway drivers, guards and station masters will be on duty and should be provided safety. I requested IGP Pujith Jayasundara to assign police personnel to prevent any sabotage by the strikers,” the deputy minister said.
However, the Railways General Manager S.M. Abeywickrama said the minister had not instructed him to cancel the leave of employees.
“We cannot cancel the leave of employees, but we will take action against those who do not report to work without informing the relevant department. Action will be taken according to regulations of the relevant department,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rajitha said they would go ahead with the token strike irrespective of the action taken by the authorities.
“No one can stop our strike action without granting our demands. If anything happens to any of our employees, this strike action will continue indefinitely until all requirements are met,” he said. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)