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Ravi K bows down to TU threat

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D. M. Gunasekara D. M. Gunasekara

The reinstatement of the General Manager Bank of Ceylon (BoC), D. M. Gunasekara on April 27, 2015 after being suspended on the orders of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake April 6, 2015 raised many eyebrows within the business community this week. According to informed sources, the Finance Minister was forced to annul the suspension and reinstate the senior banker due to the tremendous pressure exerted by the 8,000 employee-strong trade unions (TU) who had unanimously backed their employee.

“There are about 6 to 7 trade unions in the bank. Generally, when there is an issue there are differences of opinion even within the TUs. However, in this case, all the TUs were in support of the General Manager given that if that was how a person holding this senior position is treated, things would be even worse for those in the management hierarchy down the line,” a senior official of Bank of Ceylon said on the condition of anonymity.

The official noted that the suspension order of the GM had been made through a letter issued by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to the Chairman of Bank of Ceylon, Ronald C. Perera. It is learnt that following the order, the TUs had run an internal handbills awareness procedure calling for an agitation campaign and also threatened the corporate management that they would collectively resort to a work-to-rule action if the GM is not reinstated.

“The Seychelles Branch was open in 2011 whilst this GM was only appointed in January 2013. How can he be held responsible for this as decisions like opening overseas branches are approved by persons in senior hierarchies like the Minister of Finance, where in this case was the former President, the Finance Ministry Secretary, the Central Bank Governor and the Chairman at the time. Therefore, we feel that the GM is being made a scapegoat in this whole affair,” the source who is a TU member himself said.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake announced the immediate suspension of the GM to the media on April 6, 2015 stating that the suspension had been carried out on many grounds including misuse of power and corruption. However, a message from the Chairman of Bank of Ceylon two days later noted that D M Gunasekara has only been “placed on leave until investigations are completed”.

It is still not clear what the exact allegations are but TU sources said
Gunasekara has been accused of opening of a BoC branch in Seychelles without proper permission, making improper recruitment, attempting to sell gold and other procurement issues.

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