Local News from Sri Lanka: President Maithripala Sirisena issuing an Extraordinary Gazette notification has proclaimed Sri Lanka’s railway service as an essential service from yesterday, 03 October. The President has issued the Extraordinary Gazette notification No. 2143/51 in accordance with the Essential Public Service Act No 61 of 1979.
The President, considering that the services provided by the Department of Railways is “essential to the life of the community and is likely to be impeded or interrupted,” declared the specified services to be an Essential Public Service.
Accordingly, all public transport services for passengers or goods, Services of any description whatsoever necessary or required to be handled by the Department of Railways including the transport services by rail and railway lines, their maintenance and provision of proper security measures, signalling systems and their operation, issuance of tickets that are essential for the efficient and uninterrupted operation of the aforesaid services and all work and supply of labor of any description required for the maintenance of the aforesaid services should be carried out efficiently and continuously.
State Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Ashok Abeysinghe said the railway strike is being carried out for the 8th day today despite the discussions held yesterday with the trade unions.”Even though I called them last evening and discussed with them, they said they would continue the strike. If those demands are met, there will be a salary anomaly for 519,000 workers in the public sector.
I asked the President to take steps to make the railway an essential service. We ran 12 trains yesterday. 15 trains were run today. Some train drivers want to return to work. However, they have stated that the striking employees are pressuring them. Also, the General Manager of Railways is asking for police protection due to the threats
from strikers. We have provided security,” the Minister said. However, the Department of Railways stated that more trains have been operated today as compared to yesterday. Railway commuters are still severely inconvenienced due to the strike.