Railway employees in Batticaloa strike, demand pay rise.

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 November 2002, 20:30 GMT]
Demanding a pay rise, employees of the Railways Department working at railway crossings have started work stoppage, seriously impacting timely repair of railway tracks from Batticaloa to Valaichenai, some stretches of which are in urgent need of repair, sources said.

In an accident in Southern Sri Lanka in 1989, a bus carrying school students collided with a train and many students lost their lives. Following this, then president Mr. R. Premadasa ordered that new employees be hired to work on the streets near all railway crossings. These employees are expected to stop pedestrians and ensure that the barriers on the streets are working while trains cross the streets.

At the start, these employees were given an allowance of one thousand rupees. Now they are paid 100 rupees per day. In the South, the employees have been given permanency and their salaries have been raised. But in the North and East, the employees have received neither permanency nor a rise in the salary, despite the fact that these employees have been working for over 13 years.

There are 180 such employees in the Batticaloa district. Earlier this year, these employees were asked to repair the rail tracks from Polannaruwa to Valaichenai. Because of their hard work, the train service was extended up to Valaichenai within a few months. Currently the same employees are repairing the tracks from Valaichenai to Batticaloa. As a result of the strike of these employees, the repairs of the rail tracks have come to a standstill.


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