Strike total success - CTTU

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 July 1999, 17:54 GMT]
The General Secretary of the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CTTU), Mr.T.Mahasivam, said today that the one-day strike by the teachers, principals and non-academic staff in schools in the north east province was a one hundred percent success.

He added that over 17 000 teachers, principals and non-academic staff reported sick on Monday, July 19, responding to a call by the CTTU.

Over 600,000 students in the north east province also did not attend schools today.

Briefing the press in Trincomalee today, Mr.Mahasivam said that teachers, principals and non-academic staff in the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni also joined the strike.

This was the first time, he claimed, that a Tamil trade union had conducted a strike successfully, without depending on Colombo-based trade unions led by the majority community.

He thanked all the other trade unions involved namely: the All Ceylon Muslim Teachers Congress; the North East Common Teachers' Union; the Sri Lanka Independent Teachers' Union; the North East Tamil Teachers' Alliance and the Islamic Teachers' Union for supporting the one-day strike.

Of the 21 768 teachers who work in the North east province, 17 660 are Tamil medium teachers and 4180 are Sinhala medium teachers. There are 1966 provincial schools and 29 national schools in the North east.

Mr. T.Mahasivam told journalists that the second stage of the trade union action would follow if the talks scheduled to take place in Colombo with the Deputy Minister of Education failed.

He added that the union was seriously considering the suggestion made by branch leaders to boycott G.C.E.Advanced Level examinations scheduled to commence on August 2, as the second stage of the trade union action.

The CTTU delegation led by its President, S.Kumarakuruthasan, will leave Trincomalee today to attend the talks with the Deputy Minister on July 21 at 10 in the morning.

The other members of the delegation are Mr. T.Mahasivam, General Secretary; Mr. S.Saravanabavananthan, Administrative Secretary and T.Ganesharajah, Assistant General Secretary.

Meanwhile Mr.Andrew de Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education apologised today for publishing Tamil text books with grammatical mistakes and factual errors.

This was not done deliberately but due to sheer negligence, he added, when addressing the All Ceylon Tamil Day celebrations held in Colombo at Bambalapitiya Saraswathy Hall.

He was the chief guest for the function this evening.

Mr.Andrew de Silva gave an assurance that the ministry would not repeat the same mistakes and errors when printing Tamil text books next year.

He added that it would cost millions of rupees to print new Tamil text books replacing the books that had already been distributed amongst the students.

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