After nearly two months of trade union action by the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA), some relief for students seems tangible in the coming week. Minister of Higher Education S.B Dissanayake promised on Wednesday to resolve the issue within a week and FUTA President Dr. Nirmal Dewasiri mirrored his sentiments.
Q: After the protest and public lecture on Tuesday FUTA had met with the Minister. What was discussed?
After our protest on Tuesday we did have a meeting with the Minister and we discussed a number of issues and technicalities regarding the implementation of the interim resolution that we had presented before we began the trade union action.
This is an alternative proposal to our original demands and he basically agreed to this proposal. We discussed that a senior lecturers salary would be a gross of Rs. 132,000. This was the amount that we suggested be put into practice in the September 2010 budget. During our discussions we made some amendments and the amounts are slightly different.
However there was no formal agreement that was reached and the minister’s tone in the interview he gave the Daily Mirror was somewhat different to the discussions that took place. Yet he was right when he said that there would be some resolution in the next week, that is something he told us and it is what we want as well.
Q: When will the trade union action be stopped, did you agree to any particular date?
These were only discussions there was no formal agreement on the matter.
There is a formal agreement that is reached then we will stop the trade union action, hopefully within a week. What we want is a formal agreement and not only that but some implementation of the proposal. Then we will stop the trade union action. Implementation should be in the form of circulars and concrete action that shows that the interim proposals will be put into practice at once and our demands will be met speedily.
Q:What is the systematic plan agreed to by the FUTA and the government to bring correct the salary anomalies for university lecturers in the long run?
There are two further steps that we have suggested be implemented in the 2012 and 2013 budgets to bring the final figure of university lecturers salaries to 168,000.
We have made a few changes to the main demands that we presented but essentially these the demands that we made and they have been agreed to informally. But we are hoping that the government will put them into practice. Our final and long term goal is to have university lecturers’ salaries to equal that of Central Bank