24 May, 2017

FUTA Temporarily And Conditionally Suspends Trade Union Action

The two-day token strike launched by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) has been temporarily and conditionally suspended at the end of the first day (March 8, 2017) due to the positive written response received by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on behalf of the Government, says the Secretary of the FUTA, Prof. Arjuna Parakrama.

Prof. Arjuna Parakrama

Issuing a statement today Prof. Parakrama said: “This trade union action in the form of a token strike was undertaken, albeit reluctantly, by FUTA because there was no progress achieved on the demand for the legitimate professional rights of its members despite six months of discussions and letters to the authorities. It was in order to focus the Government’s attention and seek remedies for the serious anomalies and breach of agreements that resulted of the salary revisions instituted by the present government that FUTA was forced to launch this trade union action.

“The annexed letter issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) states that the Hon Prime Minister and Hon Ministers of Higher Education and Finance have intervened to take concrete steps to achieve a speedy and fair resolution to the university academic staff’s concerns as raised by FUTA.

“It is our view that the problem with university academic staff salaries is a reflection of the crisis affecting the entire education sector. Hence, unless the Government significantly increases its financial allocation for education as a whole, there can be no sustainable or just solution to these crucial issues.

“In restricting our trade union action to one day, we university academics have demonstrated our flexibility and principled approach, while at the same time reiterating our belief that the Government will honour its pledge to address our concerns swiftly. Thus, the strike has been suspended on the condition that the planned meeting with the Hon Minister of Finance and his staff will have a positive outcome. Thereafter, at end of a14-day period (on March 27) the concrete progress achieved will be assessed by FUTA in order to determine the nature and form of the next steps of its trade union action.

“We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to media institutions and individuals for the support that they have extended to us in this struggle for professional rights.”

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Latest comments

  • 9
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    I have great respect for Arjuna and his energy despite his illness. But I think he would be the first to admit that the demands of FUTA for salary increases must be founded on commitment by the staff to improve the quality of their academic services and their willingness to confront burgeoning abuse within the system, that includes the UGC. Research could easily become pretentious and fraudulent. Not every generation produces an Einstein or a Newton. It has become a great effort to understand and master what has been done during the past centuries. It is the obligation of those who teach. We need not make a pretense of great new discoveries all the time.
    • 7
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      I agree that it is good that there are people of the calibre and honesty of Prof. Arjuna Parakrama are in the forefront of affairs of this sort. Let us hope that the government realises that. I don’t want to comment on anything beyond that. Unless one is fully involved in Higher Education one should not start firing like a loose cannon. However, compared with the responsibility displayed here, how shocking it was to read about what was happening in Jaffna University in relation to the election of a Vice Chancellor: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jaffna-university-unions-voice-indignation-against-bar-on-thiagalingam-for-vc/ Sri Lanka is one country (still) and to keep it that way we must be concerned about what happens in all parts of it.
  • 9
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    “Research could easily become pretentious and fraudulent.” It has already become so under the merit promotion scheme. What we need is researchers able to apply their research skills to address real problems of relevance to our context. It is not quantity but quality, relevance and creativity.
    • 5
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      SJ, “It has already become so under the merit promotion scheme. What we need is researchers able to apply their research skills to address real problems of relevance to our context. It is not quantity but quality, relevance and creativity.” When do we start weeding?
      • 1
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        Sorry Lone Wolf I saw this comment only now. When weeds overgrow, one does not spend a life time on weeding. Healthy patches can be created, protected and developed, so that even amid what seem to be weeds will grow good seedlings that will be inspired to outgrow the weeds. The Tamil community has had a long history of political weeding and should free itself of the mindset. Revenge is what is seen in Tamil movies and what operates in many minds in many a context, including the international inquiry. Positive thinking is needed– not to sweep things under the carpet but to get priorities right. Academically, there is much awareness now of things like plagiarism and predatory journals, although personal loyalties make people who talk high principle obstruct action. Those are challenges to overcome. The UGC could be persuaded to lay down clear rules in these matters, if the less corrupt speak up, without hidden agenda of course. There is still hope.
  • 8
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    Shame to see that Aruguna also in mafia University business (Spoiling kids) and robbing poor tax payers money to feed fake professors. Whole Sri Lankan low quality public University system is full of politically appointed joker VCs. You name any public University in SL, VC is appointed through political contacts. Some Universities already started this appointment campaign even before end of current VC regimes through political connections. Now Moratuwa University full time private sector employed (but he has University also full time fake professorship) this campaign started with help of Southern UNP Minister. Rather helping him to get VC post he must be sacked from the current University job because he is doing full time job in private degree offering college. In overall, Kalaniya University recent VC appointment creates hell of problem there. In general Sri Lankan University professor appointment are hell of corruption. All the professorships given to jokers must be cancelled. In order to be a real international professor your PhD from world top 100 – 500 University, minimum 20 articles in ISI/SCOPUS indexed journals, 10 text books with international publishers and three countries have to appoint you as a Visiting professor. But all these Sri Lankan Professors are jokers and more than 40% University Lecturers are relatives to each others and they give degrees to each other. MY3 clean University system and sack fake professors. Some Dept are family trees. Grandfather Emeritus and all others are relatives, henchmen, lovers, pimps, etc. We well know how they recruits and promoted in University Mafia. First find a person and then advertise according to his/her requirement and send aboard for their friends’ places for PhDs. Go beyond Sri Lankan airport and see International job market. Even in Middle East job market, without PhD from accredited Western University you cannot become even Assistant Lecturer. But in Sri Lanka more than 99% professors do not have PhDs from world recognised Universities. The countries they (University teachers) go to do higher studies, no person is going to studies: China, Malaysia and India.
  • 7
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    I wonder who reads the words that I quote from Wasantha? ” In order to be a real international professor your PhD from world top 100 – 500 University, minimum 20 articles in ISI/SCOPUS indexed journals, 10 text books with international publishers and three countries have to appoint you as a Visiting professor. But all these Sri Lankan Professors are jokers and more than 40% University Lecturers are relatives to each others and they give degrees to each other. MY3 clean University system and sack fake professors. Some Dept are family trees. Grandfather Emeritus and all others are relatives, henchmen, lovers, pimps, etc. We well know how they recruits and promoted in University Mafia. First find a person and then advertise according to his/her requirement and send aboard for their friends’ places for PhDs. Go beyond Sri Lankan airport and see International job market. Even in Middle East job market, without PhD from accredited Western University you cannot become even Assistant Lecturer. But in Sri Lanka more than 99% professors do not have PhDs from world recognised Universities.” I have seen those words cut and pasted a hundred times by now. Can whoever is doing this please be specific about whom you are attacking? Why don’t you read alittle about how VC appointment was manipulated in Jaffna? Please see my earlier comment. I don’t try to talk about what I don’t know. Wasantha, have you ever been to a University yourself?
  • 8
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    Wasantha’s utterances comprise a rehash of absurd demands in other names earlier. Nobody took any notice after the first two times.
  • 6
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    Thanks Wasanatha exposing reality in public University system. Do not even listen to inside mafia comments. Sri Lanka is the only country without PhD from right place and without reasonable number of publications in ISI/SCOPUS journals giving professorships for jokers. Can we see so called Prof Aruguna’s Google Scholar citations and ISI and SCOPUS indexed article list? Being a tax payer to run this public University system, I have right to ask all the Sri Lankan Public University professors Google Scholar citations and ISI and SCOPUS indexed article list. Conference abstracts and papers are not considered for promotion. Covering to public University mafia and family business, how many Lecturers and fake professors eat and rob poor tax payers money. Citizens never accept Professor title given by the so called local Universities. Before you say professor to any body check they have PhD from the recognized world class University and ISI/SCOPUS publication list with Google scholar citation page. I guess under the Right to Information Act now citizen have right to ask credentials of public sector Universities academics because it runs through poor tax payers money.
  • 3
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    Binoj, Why don’t you exercise the rights you undoubtedly enjoy under the Information Act, instead of asking others to do so, and posting spam yourself? What are your own qualifications? Have you passed your G.C.E. (O. Levels) at the very least?
    • 4
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      Wasantha and Binoj are the real people need poor country like Sri Lanka to expose low quality Sri Lankan public University system and its all ills openly. Yes very true that all the Sri Lankan Citizens get together and check public University system professors’ qualifications and publications list. Recently I checked Management faculty Professors and Lecturers list. I was shocked to see that none has PhD from AACSB accredited University or world top 100 university list. Then how can we get quality guarantee about these undergraduates and PG products they produced. They are just giving piece of papers. Many professors even do not know what are ISI and SCOPUS indexed journals and Google Scholar etc. Rather giving them salary increments their salaries must be reduced and fake professorships must be cancelled. Sri Lankan citizens never accept Professor Title given by the so called local Universities based on outdoor connections. Before you say professor to anybody first check they have PhD from the recognized world class University and ISI/SCOPUS publication list (minimum 15) with Google scholar citation and research gate data page. I guess under the Right to Information Act now citizens have right to ask credentials of public sector Universities academics because it runs through poor tax payers money. As a responsible citizen so called Professor Aruguna (I never say to any body professor without seen their ISI/SCOPUS journal article list) may come and give us his ISI and SCOPUS publication list then other professors also can give their list. Then we can approve this salary increment as tax payers.
  • 3
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    After Seen all these good comments and pathetic situation inside University system, now all the Sri Lankan citizens have to re-think about sending their kids to low level public University system. At the same time UGC and the Ministry must be recheck qualifications and high impact publications and international achievements of all Sri Lankan Professors and clean the system by sacking fake professors. As conferences are now heavily commercialize they are not recognized for professor appointments. Every body knows that if you have money you can send your kids to private Universities and get good quality education and if you are poor send to public University system and you get low quality education and ending less than 500 US $ jobs. I bet that if any professor lost Sri Lankan University job they can not find clerk position. I feel sorry about why I am paying so much tax to feed this fake professors in University mafia business. Today the most important thing as professor the place you got your PhD, your ISI/SCOPUS publication list, International books list (not the author published ones), Visiting professor potions from International Universities, etc. GOD please create some body to clean Sri Lankan University mafia and family business. Today every body knows that Arts faculties are the symbol of unemployment and rural kids come because they do not have any other choice. Most of the Trade Union guys are also from Arts faculty because they do not have anything to do. After all these public Universities are run through tax payers money.
    • 2
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      Arunapala, “After Seen all these good comments and pathetic situation inside University system, now all the Sri Lankan citizens have to re-think about sending their kids to low level public University system.” Where do you think the children of ordinary citizens can afford to study? Is there a real alternative? MIT? Oxford? LSE? With the English skills they have? “At the same time UGC and the Ministry must be recheck qualifications and high impact publications and international achievements of all Sri Lankan Professors and clean the system by sacking fake professors.” I agree but the really competent professors are rarely interested in working in SL especially in the smaller rural universities. Relatives of existing lecturers can be competent despite being relatives. In a small place like, for instance, Jaffna the elite marries from the elite and you get an inbred group where people know each other. Do you want to stop lecturers marrying lecturers and bar their children from the academic professions? “Every body knows that if you have money you can send your kids to private Universities and get good quality education” In Sri Lanka or abroad? Do good quality private universities exist in SL? “and if you are poor send to public University system and you get low quality education and ending less than 500 US $ jobs.” USD 500 (rs 75000) stable income or even half of it is a dream for most citizens. “Today every body knows that Arts faculties are the symbol of unemployment and rural kids come because they do not have any other choice.” Yes but the graduates usually end up being teachers or other government servants. The salary is reasonable assuming they live in rural areas. There is pension and other perks. If they marry another government servant the family income is quite good. Add some tuition income for the teachers and a little corruption for the others. What you describe as bad is actually the dream of many in the villages.
    • 1
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      Dear Arunapala, Lone Wolf has quoted you verbatim, desisting from commenting on the shockingly bad mistakes in your English. It is YOU who will not find employment even in Sri Lanka as an English-using clerk, yet your talk is “International”! O tempora! O mores!!
      • 1
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        SM I do not agree with much of what Arunapala says. But he has a point on the quality of our university academics. I am glad that LW chose not to go into the quality of language and concentrated on the content. To me A’s writing was an interesting exercise in the way English operates in a Sinhala (or even to a Tamil) speaker. (It is the kind of writing that someone like Prof. Thiru Kandiah would have read with relish.) Despite all mistakes, he has got his message across. But there are many whose grammar is impeccable but syntax is a nightmare.
  • 4
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    Wasantha, Binoj and Mahesh, Working together, your demands are “world class”, you want “all Sri Lankan Citizens” to get together and check the qualifications of professors. Are even a thousand such citizens aware of your demands, quite apart from their not possessing the competence to do so? You guys keep talking of publications; why is it that you guys can’t write proper English? I ask this only because of your denigration of everything to do with local universities. I myself realise that it is only competence in the two local languages that can be EXPECTED. Admittedly, we cannot be satisfied with only two local languages, which cannot even be understood outside our part of the world. If “World Standards” are demanded, may I know in which language? Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, or even Hindi? How is it that the writing of you guys is mostly repetitive cut and paste; when you venture outside that area of language use, your English is full of mistakes. Am I to analyse the mistakes in one of the three comments above? You may do the same with what I have written. Enough of such balderdash! I shan’t comment any further here unless you take up that challenge. It is very important that University teachers be allowed tranquility to educate our youngsters who are in the Universities. Now please stop croaking!
    • 3
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      Sinhala_Man, I am tired of their copy and paste.
  • 2
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    @Sinhala man, You are clearly a decent person and I have great respect for your comments in general. However, we should not dismiss the comments of the likes of Wasantha out of hand, even though they sometimes make their comments in a crude way and they themselves, as you imply, may not have the academic qualifications that they demand of others. The reality is that most sri lankan professors are vastly under-qualified, and a lot are egoistic, and given to nepotism (please note that I don’t say most are egoistic and given to nepotism). This should not be glossed over. Nevertheless I support their demand for better payment – MUCH better payment. This should be granted, and at the same time more stringent demands must be made on their performance, particularly research performance. The ramping up of academic standards and ramping up of salaries should be done in an iterative and interdependent way. I agree that mediocre performance deserves mediocre salaries, as Wasantha and co argues, but the professors can also turn around and say mediocre salaries deserve mediocre performance. Push up both, I say.
    • 2
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      Thanks, Hard Truth, Yes, I guess we have to be careful not to make people feel that they will not even be listened to.

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