Trade unions of Sri Lanka Telecom have launched an island wide token strike today (16) over several demands including the removal of current SLT Chairman Pallewatte Gamaralalage Kumarasinghe Sirisena, the brother of President Maithripala Sirisena.
SLT trade unions allege that under Sirisena’s watch the institution had lost Rs. 50 billion due to short-sighted decisions and wasteful expenditure. They said a handful of senior officials working hand in glove with Kumarasinghe Sirisena are responsible for the current state of affairs within the institution.
Trade unions also stated that SLT had obtained a staggering amount of bank loans under Sirisena’s instructions for no apparent reason. They added that Sirisena’s decisions had jeopardized the future of all SLT workers.
Eight trade unions have come together as a common front under the name “Protest Sri Lanka Telecom – Trade Union Collective” to launch TU action against Sirisena who was appointed soon after his brother’s appointment as the President.
President Maithripala Sirisena is currently the minister in charge of Sri Lanka Telecom as the institution was not under any Ministry on December 29. Ajith P Perera functions as the non-Cabinet Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure.
Since his appointment as SLT Chairman, Kumarasinghe Sirisena has run into many controversies including a decision to increase his own salary through a board paper. Sirisena, in March 2015, sought a salary increase that gave him a monthly income of approximately 2.4 million rupees (from SLT and Mobitel) while many SLT workers had issues relating to their salaries and bonuses.
There are also questions about Sirisena’s suitability to run the government’s biggest telecommunications company. At the time he was appointed the SLT Chairman, Sirisena had no experience in the telecommunication sector or any related field.
He had experience as CEO/General Manager of the State Timber Corporation and he had also worked as a Board Director at Land Reclamation & Development Company Ltd and L.R.D.C. Services (Pvt) Ltd. Kumarasingha Sirisena had also worked as Financial Consultant at Araliya Group of Companies (Pvt) Ltd, owned by Dudley Sirisena.
Sirisena had held all senior positions in the government after his brother, Maithripala Sirisena, became a Cabinet minister in 1997.