The story of the "6% t-shirt": the hundred day struggle of the Federation of University Teachers' Association, Sri Lanka


  • Dileepa Witharana Leiden University


Much has been written, mainly in mainstream media, about the hundred day struggle launched in 2012 by the Federation of University Teachers' Association (FUTA) of Sri Lanka. This includes details of the main events of the struggle, unraveling the logic behind the main demand of the struggle – an allocation of six percent of GDP for education and the political significance of the struggle.  This paper attempts to investigate how it was possible for the FUTA, a loose umbrella organization that represented over forty sister unions of university academics from the Sri Lankan state university system, to launch and sustain a struggle against the then powerful Mahinda Rajapakse government and to transform itself during that time to a social movement. The paper identifies certain key features of the struggle ranging from the nature of the leadership and the membership, the choice of slogans, structures of the organisation to the nature of the responses of the government, which created this unique space for a trade union struggle to evolve into a social movement.  In doing so the paper positions the FUTA struggle in the larger socio-political landscape that extended well beyond the space occupied by the traditional trade unionism of the island.   

Author Biography

Dileepa Witharana, Leiden University

PhD student, Leiden Institute of Area Studies


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How to Cite

Witharana, D. (2015). The story of the "6% t-shirt": the hundred day struggle of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association, Sri Lanka. The South Asianist Journal, 4(1). Retrieved from