Sri Lanka issues Termination Notices to striking Railway Workers

Sri Lanka railway train

(Photo by Sasandu Siriwardena on Unsplash)

Nearly 1,000 letters notifying the termination of positions for Station Masters and Railway Controllers in Sri Lanka, who participated in the strike, have been issued, according to officials.

Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena confirmed that the letters, declaring the strikers to have vacated their positions, were sent to approximately 1,000 railway employees.

This decision follows the station masters’ union’s strike, which began on July 9, 2024, citing demands for promotions and other issues.

Minister Gunawardena criticized the strike, labeling the unions as “terrorist trade unions,” and condemned their challenge to presidential directives, emphasizing that any failure to return to work would result in dismissal.

He questioned the legitimacy of the strikers’ demands and highlighted the disruption to public transport services.

He also suggested that the response might have been different under former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, asserting that the current administration would not tolerate such actions, stating, “A public service that operates with ruffians cannot take a country forward.”

Meanwhile, the General Manager of Sri Lanka Railways had previously warned that station masters and controllers who did not report by noon on July 10, 2024 would be considered to have vacated their positions.

Despite these warnings, the Railway Station Masters’ Union continued its strike, emphasizing that they would not engage in sabotage and urging the government to resolve their demands promptly.

The Transport Ministry’s Secretary, Ranjith Rubasinghe, reiterated that the strike was illegal as railway services are designated essential.

He warned of strict disciplinary actions for those failing to report to duty. The union’s President, Sumedha Somaratne, announced that their executive council would decide on further actions if the government’s stance remained unchanged.