Train strike from midnight today

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All railways trade unions have decided to launch a strike from midnight today over the Transport Ministry’s failure to sign a letter suspending a shunting driver who was caught under the influence of liquor while on duty, one trade union said.

Sri Lanka Freedom Railway Workers Association (SLFRWA) Secretary Nadeera Manoj said the Railways General Manager (GMR) had written to the Transport Ministry Secretary requesting to suspend the service of the said shunting driver.

“The driver was found driving a train under the influence of liquor on May 28. The GMR cannot take a direct decision to suspend him as he is a trade union leader. Therefore, he requested the ministry to suspend the driver,” he said.

He said though the GMR had requested the Transport Ministry Secretary on three occasions to suspend the driver, the Secretary had not responded. “This is why the GMR has also decided to resign from his post yesterday,” Manoj said.

Therefore, he said all railways trade unions had decided to launch a strike from midnight today if the Ministry was unable to take a decision before 6.00 pm.

Mr. Manoj also claimed that the Ministry Secretary had not yet signed the suspension letter because the shunting driver was one of his close associates.

When contacted, Transport Ministry Secretary L. P. Jayampathy said that he was not aware of a railway trade union action.

However, he said that he had received letters from the GMR regarding the suspension of a shunting driver.

“The GMR had not adopted a proper way to take action against the said driver and that was why I did not sign the letter. If I signed the letter, the higher management can file a case over the procedure taken to suspend the service of the driver. I have no connection with this shunting driver,” Mr. Jayampathy added.