Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trade union action in the offing

Essential utility services would be disrupted over the next few days as a series of trade union actions have been lined up in the semi government sector demanding salary increments and reduction of prices of essential commodities.

Lanka Petroleum Corporation Combined Trade Union Alliance (CPCCTUA) issuing a statement states trade union action of work to rule will be followed from the 22nd October. The statement emphasizes that due to this trade union action there would be a shortage of petroleum would occur through out the country and the public would be inconvenienced. The statement further states the government should take complete responsibility as it had failed to find solutions to issues of employees. CPCCTUA spokesman D.J Rajakaruna said tomorrow’s (22) work to rule campaign would be a 24-hour protest. He said the distribution of fuel could be disrupted during the trade union actions today and tomorrow.

Trade unions point out having removed the salary discrepancy occurred in 2006 salary modification, and to increase the salary from 1st of January 2009, a combined committee with managing authority and representatives from trade union was appointed in 2008. The trade union action to be taken would be due to the refusal to implement of the suggestions made by the committee. This too was made possible only after conducting a one day token strike to create an agreement with the managing authority. At a discussion held on 23rd of last month on this matter between all trade union delegates and the minister an agreement was reached to pay Rs.5000 allowance from the 1st of January, 2009 till the cabinet approval was taken for 2009 salary increments. This complex situation has occurred due to refusal of carrying out this agreement also by the authority. According to employees state the minister’s attitude to avoid solving the issue and the decision of the management not to give into the demands of the employees would make it necessary for trade unions to take tough action to win workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, Ranjan Jayalal, the Convener of the Lanka Viduli Seva Sangamaya, had said they would stage a protest on 28th of this month demanding a salary increase. Salary increments in the estate sector, CPC, CEB and the Ports Authority are given once in three years, in accordance with a collective agreement signed between the employees and the employer. The salary increments due this year have not yet been given. The last salary increment was given in 2006.

President of National Trade Union Alliance and Parliamentarian K.D. Lalkantha said repeated requests to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a salary increase and a reduction of the cost of living had failed to yield results. “We are left with only the option of going for an indefinite general strike, covering all sectors, until the government grants our demands, as 80% of the people are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

© Lanka Truth

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