Train operations in Sri Lanka have reportedly returned to normalcy this morning (Sept. 14) after the Locomotive Operating Engineers’ Union called off their strike last night.
The trade union action was nixed following discussions with the authorities during which the demands of train engine drivers were said to have met with favorable response.
A total of 84 trade union members resorted to a strike at midnight on Monday (11 Sep.) over several key demands including the amendments to the recruitment process and promotions, which they claim fell on deaf ears for nearly five years.
Thousands of commuters were afflicted by the trade unions, as more than 150 train journeys were cancelled yesterday and the day before after locomotive operating engineers withdrew from duties. This forced many passengers to train-surf on overcrowded trains, while others were left stranded at railway stations.
Meanwhile, an 18-year-old who was travelling on the roof of a Kandy-Colombo train crammed with passengers tragically fell to his death at the Horape railway station. Tense situations were reported at a number of railway stations as passengers were infuriated by the trade union action.
The situation compelled President Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Tuesday (12 Sep.) to issue a gazette notification last evening (12) declaring the public transport services for passengers or goods and the provision and maintenance of facilities for transport services by railway lines as essential services with immediate effect under the Essential Public Service Act.
On Wednesday evening, the Railway Department sounded a warning to the 84 train engine drivers on strike and urged them to report for duty immediately. The department emphasized that in the event of their failure to report for duty, the engine drivers on strike would be considered to have vacated their posts.