Despite the declaration of the railway service as an essential service, the Sri Lanka Railway Locomotive Operating Engineers Union Secretary, S.R.C.M. Senanayake, has confirmed that the strike will continue.
Senanayake expressed his intent to seek documents confirming whether the Minister of Transport or other relevant authorities had been invited for discussions. He asserted that the strike would persist until their demands were met, emphasizing that the rulers had no cause to end the strike prematurely.
One of the key concerns highlighted by Senanayake was the shortage of locomotive drivers. He stated that to maintain optimal railway operations, the department requires 450 drivers, but currently, there are only 280 drivers available.
In response to the strike, the railway department has taken a stern stance. Eighty-four locomotive drivers participating in the strike have been formally notified to return to work immediately. Failure to do so may result in them being considered to have vacated their positions.
The strike, initiated by the Union of Railway Locomotive Operating Engineers, commenced at midnight on Monday (11) and includes various demands, such as a revision of the recruitment process and promotion procedures.
The strike has had a significant impact on passengers, with over 128 train journeys canceled due to the absence of drivers. However, to alleviate passenger inconvenience, the railway department has introduced 139 scheduled train services for morning and evening travel. The situation remains tense as negotiations between the union and authorities continue to be unresolved.