A tense situation arose at State Engineering Corporation this morning as the chairman of the institution was held hostage by the workers.
The workers told the media that they held Chairman Ratnasiri Kalupahana hostage as their salaries were not paid last month. He was held hostage on the sixth floor of the building.
A worker who did not wish to be named told journalists that they were not paid salaries on time and this had frustrated them. "Our salaries were late and we are yet to be paid this month's salary. Therefore we were frustrated. Also those who had top posts in our institution do not have any qualifications," he said.
Chairman Kalupahana defined that he was held hostage by workers by some of the politically motivated workers who tried to get into his room. However, the workers were prevented by the security officers present.
"This is nothing but a political propaganda motivated by interested parties. There were slight delays in paying salaries as the state institutions which we have done projects for had delayed payments. We managed to pay salaries to all those who are working in various construction sites but we could not pay the salaries to the staff in the head office this month. However we will pay the salaries immediately," he said.
Mr. Kalupahanhana denied that those who are holding top posts are not qualified. “ I am a qualified lawyer and a former banker and my Deputy is a qualified Engineer. Also this was an institution which was running at a profit but the situation has changed during the Yahapalana government as funds had been wasted during that time,” he added.
Health officials including the MOH Colombo Central Dhammika Adikariwasam who rushed to the scene said there have been no breaking of quarantine laws by the workers as the gathering was cleared within a short period. “ However we advised them not to behave in the manner in which they did as it could result in a further spread of COVID 19,” he said.
The Daily Mirror learns that health officials rushing to places where a large number of people gather is a norm during the pandemic period. (Yohan Perera)