Strike at Hambantota Harbour: Promises and the demands

Strike at Hambantota Harbour: Promises and the demands

Strike at Hambantota Harbour: Promises and the demands

Written by Lahiru Fernando

11 Dec, 2016 | 10:36 pm

The workers’ strike at the Magampura Harbour, Hambantota continued for a fifth day today, December 11.

A Singaporean ship carrying a cargo of motor vehicles left the port today. It was seized by the striking workers four days ago and was taken over by the Navy yesterday.

A second ship -owned by a Chinese corporation- carrying a cargo of iron and gas, is still in port and in the custody of the Navy.

According to sources at the harbour, the ship is unable to weigh anchor as there are no workers to unload the cargo.

While the dock is under the control of Navy, other sections of the harbour including the Administration Building have been secured by the Police and the Special Task Force.

Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Mahinda Amaraweera,  visited the harbour this afternoon, to meet with the strikers.

The conversation that followed:

Mahinda Amaraweera: “We still do not know whether the Chinese are taking it or not. Discussions were held with China and a preliminary agreement was signed. A proper agreement has not been signed as yet. It has not been concluded. We do not know how many months it will take. Calculations have to be made.”

Employee: “The Prime Minister says it will be from January”

Minister: “No, No. It will commence officially”

Minister: (Speaking to Arjuna Ranatunga over the phone) “They continuously say the ports authority must take over. Is it ok if I turn on the speaker?”

Arjuna Ranatunga (Minister – Ports & Shipping): “We are still speaking to the Chinese. They do not like what is happening here. If you stop this now, then I can speak to the Chinese by noon tomorrow and ensure that they guarantee all of your jobs. But, if they are not willing to withdraw and return to work, at least by noon tomorrow, then I will have to make some decisions. If the Chinese Corporation says no, we cannot turn back.”

Meanwhile the All Ceylon General Ports Employees Union pointed out that the previous government recruited 20 persons to Sri Lanka Ports, through the on the job training programme and that the present government has recruited about 20 people to the Ports Authority.

Given the situation, Chandrasiri Mahagamage (General Secretary – All Ceylon General Ports Employees Union) has questioned the government’s “trumpeting about how they will generate one million jobs”, while being unable to make plans for the jobs of 483 workers

“When they cannot give 483 jobs, how will they give one million? The workers have been dragged to the streets”, he added.

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