Strike cripples Sri Lanka's train service

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 January 2004, 16:28 GMT]
The strike launched by railway employees from Monday midnight has brought the Sri Lanka's train services to a halt. Talks held between a delegation of railway trade unions and two Cabinet Ministers Tuesday evening ended in a failure, sources said.

Railway control room said Tuesday that almost all long distance passenger and mail trains did not run as scheduled inconveniencing hundreds of thousands of commuters.

The Sri Lanka Transport Board has deployed more buses on service to ease difficulties faced by commuters, sources said.

More than ten thousand railway employees have been on strike from Monday midnight demanding that the newly established Railway Authority should be abolished and the earlier Railway Department structure restored, sources said

The Sri Lanka government says the Department of Railway was converted to an authority six months ago and it is impossible to scrap the new structure. However the government is prepared to consider more benefits to railway employees who have been willing to join the newly formed Railway Authority or to retire without joining the authority, a Transport Ministry official said.

Special benefits have been provided to employees who want to retire without joining the authority. Those who have completed a ten-year period of service in the railway department can retire voluntarily, sources said

Railway employees have been given time to join the Railway Authority till July 31.

Meanwhile Transport Minister Mr.Tilak Marapone said he is prepared to meet railway trade union officials to find a satisfactory solution to their demands, sources said.

 

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