Unions threaten stronger action next time around

Victimisation must stop immediately, say employee representatives
By Damith Wickramasekera

Trade union leaders warn that serious action will follow if the government continued to victimise those who had taken part in the recent work-to-rule campaign, held at four key state institutions – the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.

The union leaders say that hundreds of members have been transferred and shunted from place to place in what appears to be punitive action for taking part in the work-to-rule campaign.

Ranjan Jayalal, spokesperson for the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade union, told the Sunday Times that a full-scale work-to-rule campaign – involving the CEB, CPC, the Colombo Ports Authority and the Water Board – could follow.

The CEB is threatening strike action in early December if the government fails to keep its promise of a 40 per cent pay increase. While trade unions for the other three institutions have accepted a government offer of a 22 per cent pay increase, the CEB insists on 40 per cent.“Our position has not changed, and we will press for the 40 per cent, no matter what,” Mr. Jayalal said.

A. Rajakaruna, union spokesperson for the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, said under-qualified persons who had not taken part in the recent work-to-rule campaign were being given ad hoc promotions.

“This must stop immediately or we’ll be forced to take further action – of a more serious nature,” Mr. Rajakaruna said. “It should be pointed out that our union action was relaxed only temporarily. If our demands are not met before the beginning of January, we will resort to union action before the elections.”

A trade unionist for Ports Authority employees alleged that the Authority was drawing up a list of port employees who had taken part in the work-to-rule campaign. It is alleged that several persons have already been transferred to the southern port of Galle.

“This has to stop immediately or we will launch more union action as early as next week,” said union spokesperson Chandrasiri Mahagamage. “Our problem is with the government, not with the management.”

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