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Though his left hand is in plaster after being assaulted by Police on May Day, this comrade with his clenched right fist was seen protesting against privatisation at a joint rally recently in Colombo. Pic. by Gemunu Wellege
The LSSP will keep up its pressure on the PA government by continuing to oppose any privatisation move and voting against the extension of the state of emergency.
The PA which was shaken up over a section of its backbenchers having talks with the CEB strikers last week was this week put into further difficulty when the LSSP abstained from voting on the extension of the state of emergency on Thursday.
LSSP MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara confirmed that the party would not vote with the government in the extension of the emergency and also on any matter regarding the privatisation of state owned ventures.
Mr. Nanayakkara added that as a first step, the Central Committee of the LSSP decided to refrain from voting at the emergency debate and had also decided to continue with this stance.
Mr. Nanayakkara also said that his party fully supported the CEB strike because the LECO agreement would have already been signed if not for this trade union action.
"We informed President Chandrika Kumaratunga well in advance that the LSSP would not vote for the emergency as there was no justification for doing so. I made a statement to this effect three emergency debates back. We want the President to change the government's position on these subjects," Mr. Nanayakkara said.
On Thursday the emergency motion was passed in Parliament by a majority of 33 votes with 115 voting for it. The EPDP, DPLF and CWC voted with the government.
The Sunday Times learns that President Kumaratunga met the EPDP leader on Wednesday evening where they discussed matters related to a proposed visit by the party to Jaffna.
The EPDP had abstained from voting on two earlier occasions.
Meanwhile PA backbenchers styled as the 'Mulberry group' who came under severe criticism from the President for striking a deal with CEB workers to end their strike are maintaining that they did not have an agreement with the trade unions.
A 'Mulberry group' member DUNF MP Ravi Karunanayaka told the The Sunday Times that they only reached an 'understanding' with the strikers. Mr. Karunanayaka who termed the discussion with the strikers as 'loose talks' said the idea of the meeting was to bridge the gap between the two warring factions.
"We acted as an intermediary to bring the issue within sight of a settlement," he said.
The head of the 'Mulberry group' Chamal Rajapakse also maintained that they did not arrive at any agreement whatsoever with the CEB strikers persuading them to call off their trade union action.
If the LSSP continues not to vote with the government on the emergency, the 31 member Executive Committee representing all alliance partners will have to decide on that, PA General Secretary D.M. Jayaratne said.
Mr. Jayaratne told 'The Sunday Times' the position of one or two members could not be taken as the decision of the party they belong to. According to the understanding reached amongst the constituent members of the alliance when it was formed, the decisions of the member parties have to be conveyed through their respective General Secretaries.
The Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU) has strongly protested about the manner in which its President, P. Bandara and another union official arrested by the CID.
Mr. Bandara and the CBEU Assistant Secretary C.W.W. Ratnayake were detained by the CID for 18 hours and questioned about any strike action they intend to carry out.
A union spokesman yesterday said the two union officials travelling in a three wheeler had been followed by plain clothesmen stopped and then ordered to get into a Police jeep from where they were taken to the CID Headquarters.
"The CBEU head office is open to anybody and the CID could home very well called over at office and questioned them or arrested them. We do not understand why they should have "ambushed" the union officials and arrested them," he said.
The union is to make an official statement today. The Sunday Times learns that a rival faction of the CBEU had petitioned the CID about these officials which led to their questioning. The CBEU elections are due to take place on July 12.
A top Ministerial committee studying the Cost Of Living crisis is considering a new concept where the COL will be cushioned by a wage increase to be tied up with productivity, Trade Minister Kingsley Wickremaratne said.
The cabinet sub-committee will need another three months to work out the mechanisms of this and other plans, he said.
The committee headed by Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike has met three times since it was appointed about two months ago.
Mr. Wickremaratne said the proposed new concept would help employees get a better pay or in other words an increment base on the COL, but they would have to enhance the productivity of their industry to get that. The authority who would decide upon this increase would be the heads of the respective organisations, in both public and private sectors.
"When it comes to white collar jobs, the productivity will be assessed in a different way by the employees, as there is no visible output," the Minister explained.
EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda will seek permission from President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to enable him to take his cadres and weapons to Jaffna on his visit to the liberated areas.
Mr. Devananda told The Sunday Times that it was very important for him to take his personal security along with him on this trip. "Since we are in the islands the people would not expect the army to escort us. Furthermore Jaffna is our hometown and we are going to meet our people. The people will not approach us if we are escorted by the army. And also the impression the people have about us is not that good as it was created by the LTTE since we are operating in the islands. So if we have an army escort things would not look good. "I want full protection and I know the army would not be able to give that," he explained.
He strongly felt that his request will be granted. "I hope to meet the President in a few days to discuss this issue. I am positive that she will agree, once I reason out. After all, she agreed to our visit as well as to open an office, so this won't be a problem", he added.
Although a date is not fixed for their visit, Mr. Devananda added that he hopes to make it very soon.
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