Engineering Row

May 27, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s state-enterprise engineers are starting industrial action after the government denied them tax-slashed cars, with a warning of tougher measures if no notice is taken of their demands within the next two weeks. Other officers in state-enterprises and statutory bodies have also been denied the privilege. But engineers say tax free cars have been one of their privileges from 1978.

“We know there is a war, but when the promises were made also there was a war,” says engineer Kumudu Wijegunewardene from the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.

“Who makes the policy? There is ad hoc policymaking everywhere.”

Engineers say doctors in two semi-government hospitals had been given tax-free cars.

Terror Tactics

But engineers had patiently pushed their case up to Cabinet of minister’s level over more than a year, and had then been denied the cars after being sent from pillar to post they say.

“Doctors are getting cars because sick patients’ lives are at stake,” says Wijegunewardene.

“Is terrorism the only thing that the government responds to? Just because we acted with discipline our demands are being taken lightly.”

Ratnayake says many engineers are migrating abroad