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Railway Unions oppose privatisation moves

Railway Trade Union Alliance (RTUA) yesterday accused the Government that preliminary measures are being taken by the Government to privatize the Railway Department.

RTUA Co-convener, S.P Withanage threatened the Government of tough trade union action unless the Government withdraws the decision of privatising.

Addressing media yesterday at their trade union office at Maradana he said that the Government’s intension is to privatize the Railway Department when considering the decisions taken by Railway Department heads.

He said under the privatization move, a private company has been formed named the ‘Railway Museum Guarantee Limited’.The company hopes to establish a Railway Museum utilising Rs 300 million of the Railway Department.

The Railway Department received this money as a loan from the Peoples’ Bank and Peoples’ Leasing.

Withanage urged Government to provide facilities to make train compartments at the Ratmalana Railway Workshop utilising this Rs 300 million rather than establishing a museum, which cannot be considered as a must at the moment.

“We have requested the Transport and Civil Aviation Minister to provide facilities to make and repair train compartments as the repair work is done by the private sector now,” he said. He expressed his suspicion that resources including 13,000 acres of lands of the Railway Department are going to be misused through the established private company.

“Another company, which operates the ‘Viceroy Special Train’ should pay Rs 35.4 million to the Railway Department. But the Railway authorities have failed to take any action to claim the money,” he said.

Asked whether the RTUA supports the scheduled token strike of the Railway Guards and Drivers, he said that the RTUA accepts all six demands of them except the sixth.

“The RTUA is against the sixth demand and we can’t accept it as we believe that not only drivers but also the assistant driver need to undergo a special training. It is better to give that special training to guards also,” he said.