A chairman of Viyatmaga who is above the Prime Minister

On September 16, a group of members of the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union were seen protesting near the Lake House roundabout in Colombo. Their main demand was to confirm the Banking Trainees of the Bank of Ceylon after two years of the training. It was the practice of banks to confirm trainees after two years for decades.

Comrade Channa Dissanayake, President of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union states, The government of good governance recruited a group of banking trainees to the bank in 2018. Breaking the tradition, they extended their training period by one year up to three years. The Bank of Ceylon branch of the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union requested that this be reduced to two years, but the then rulers did not comply. After the current government came to power, we had discussions with the current Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, with a view of finding solutions to several issues that exist in the bank. At that discussion, the Prime Minister acknowledged that our request was reasonable and instructed the Secretary to the Treasury to take the necessary steps in this regard.

Accordingly, we had a discussion with the Secretary to the Treasury on July 3, 2020 and on July 7, he sent a letter to the Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon instructing him to reduce the training period. But the chairman did not want to accede that request. The Chairman has inquired from the Commissioner of Elections regarding the relevant issue stating that there is a problem in this regard as the General Election is close by. However, the Commissioner of Elections replied to the letter stating that he did not understand the contents of the letter.

The Chairman refused to confirm the employees even after the election despite the approval of the Board of Directors. The chairman says it will cost a lot of money. It is a well-known fact that there are costs involved in resolving a dispute. The bank pays Rs. 30,000 as the salary to Banking Trainees. The Chairman has sought approval to increase the salary to Rs. 60,000, which increase may double their salary. But if these employees are confirmed, the bank will have to bear only about another Rs.  10,000. The chairman does not like it. We have a question as on whose instructions the Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon is acting against the orders of the Prime Minister.

The Executive Committee of the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union met and decided to take a trade union action in this regard. We launched the inaugural campaign on 16th afternoon with the participation of the other Branch Unions at the Lake House Roundabout. We have decided to launch this action island wide until these trainees are confirmed.

By Wijepala Weerakoon

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