Sunday, November 15, 2009

Full-scale strike after thuggery at CPC

By Damith Wickremasekara - The go-slow campaign of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers has turned into a strike after supporters of a UPFA politician provoked two incidents outside the Kolonnawa fuel distribution centre on Friday and yesterday, trade union leaders said.

As a crisis created a fuel shortage yesterday with several filling stations being closed, Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie met TU leaders later yesterday, but the talks failed. Treasurey Secretary P. B. Jayasundera also joined the talks to discuss the salary demand, but these talks also failed to produce results.

TU leaders said a gang had waited outside the CPC premises at Kolonnnawa on Friday to assault workers while some of them carried placards saying they were willing to work for a salary of Rs. 5,000. The Army on guard had intervened to prevent an outbreak of violence.

Union leaders said that yesterday morning another group of women came close to the gate and made obscene gestures, further aggravating the situation.

“We had decided to end our three-day work-to rule-campaign on Friday and return to work when the first incident occurred. After the second incident happened yesterday, the situation worsened and workers do not want to get back to work,” joint trade union front spokesman D.J. Rajakaruna said.

JVP trade union wing leader K.D. Lalkantha warned yesterday they would draw other vital state institutions into the strike, if the government resorted to thuggery.

Other union leaders in the CPC, the Ceylon Electricity Board, the Water Board and the Ports Authority also warned they would launch an all-out strike and invite other public sector trade unions to join them if the demand for a salary increase was not amicably settled.

However, government leaders said they were able to maintain essential services despite the work to rule from Wednesday.

Minister Fowzie said private tankers were used to send additional fuel supplies while Ports Authority officials said some of the workers cooperated to maintain the services.

© The Sunday Times

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