Talks fail, bus unions back on strike
Talks between the transport minister and trade unions to resolve a strike ended in a dead lock said the chairman of the transport board.
Transport sector trade unions are on strike demanding a 2,500 pay hike given by the budget to state employees.
Chairman of the transport board Dr. I S Jayaratna speaking to Sandeshaya said that talks went on for about one and half hours and still it was not possible to arrive at an agreement.
He said "All these bus companies are running at a loss and if this increase is to be paid, we would have to find about rupees 1.4 billion annually and the treasury is not willing to provide this amount".
Jayaratna added that given these circumstances the pay hike could only be paid if the bus companies could make profit.
The trade union leading strike action is associated with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's Sri lanka Freedom Party.
Union leader Nimal Abeysiri told BBC Sandeshaya said that members of all the trade unions will carry on with the strike until the treasury releases the money to pay.
He said, "The minister of finance promised us this salary increase".
Abeysiri added that he met the minister of finance Sarath Amunugama at his residence on Tuesday to remind him of the pledge.
The Minister had promised to look in to the matter but no concrete pledge was received.