Labour Minister, Energy authorities to decide on CEB pay demands today

Power and Energy authorities will meet Labour Minister John Seneviratne to discuss the issue of salary demand by striking Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions, Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary Dr. B. M. S. Batagoda said yesterday.

Electricity superintendents who did not participate in the strike extending their support to non-striking CEB engineers, have reportedly threatened authorities that they too will join the ongoing strike if the authorities did not implement pay increments and benefits that should bring them close to salaries and perks enjoyed by the engineers.

Power and Renewable Energy Ministry Secretary Dr. B M.S. Batagoda yesterday said the ministry has given a concrete solution to the CEB superintendents’ pay demand, but they are pushing the ministry to implement the recommendations in just one day.

“I have made very good recommendations for them,” he said.

Asked about the chances of power supply being interrupted by the ongoing strike, Dr Batagoda said they have been able to maintain the system without any major power interruptions despite 20,000 people keeping away.

“There have been failures in some small pockets on account of minor maintenance-related issues, such as billings and minor repairs. Other than that 99 per cent of the supply has been there, and we are doing our best to have 100 percent efficiency in the distribution of electricity,” he said.

As pointed out by CEB sources, the striking trade unions and workers compose CEB’s non-technical staff. The technical staff consisting of electricity engineers and superintendents are crucial to maintain the supply.

The superintendents have threatened the authorities that they too will join the strike if they did not implement pay increments to them taking advantage of the strike, a CEB official explained.

He said the CEB engineers have assured the power authorities that they can maintain electricity power generation without any significant interruption despite the situation that non-technical staff striking. But the situation could change should superintendents strike work, he said.

Ministry Secretary Dr. Batagoda said the problems surged in terms of salaries of CEB workers since the engineers got a 75 percent increase in their salaries in January 2008, which made their salary nine times higher than the non-technical workers.

It was earlier set at the ratio of one to six.The CEB striking trade unions demand that their pay be increased so as to roll back to the previous ratio.

As explained by Power and Energy Ministry officials, the engineers are against it.The CEB’s non technical staff actually started their strike action to oppose the engineers. 

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