Sri Lanka

Water Board employees strike continues, disruptions across the country

COLOMBO (News 1st) – The water supply and maintenance of water supply infrastructure in many parts of the country has been hampered as a result of the trade union action launched by workers of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board over salary arrears.

Convener of the Joint Alliance of Water Supply Trade Union, Upali Ratnayake stated that they launched the trade union action on the 28th  of May as the relevant authorities are not listening to them. He added that the last salary increment they received was in 2015 and another increment was due in January 2018 and that this was delayed.

Accordingly he said they launched trade union action in February 2018, following this, they were given a written assurance that basic salaries would be increased by 15% but this has not been implemented. He said that if the public is inconvenienced by this then the rulers should take responsibility for it.

Subject Minister Rauff Hakeem expressed his views on Saturday (June 02), regarding the union’s demands. He said that since he took charge of the ministry, recently, salaries were increased by 20% and yet they demanded 25%. According to the Minister he has asked that they be given at least 23% and as soon as the government came into power they were given a 30% increment. Minister Hakeem said that the salaries of Water board employees have been increased by 50% over 3 years and now they are requesting for another threefold increase.

Meanwhile, reports of ruptured pipelines not being repaired have emerged from many parts of the country. This led to serious water wastage in Devinuwara, Matara and Battaramulla. The public is also complaining of a stench accompanying water supplied from the Biyagama Purification Plant.

Officials at the NWSDB have provided a temporary solution; however, the main cause for this stench is wastewater that collects in the Kelani River through this canal which is located upstream. While visiting the area, our cameras captured the stagnant floodwater which is still retained in low lying areas.

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