Colombo city disrupted by multiple strikes

Colombo city disrupted by multiple strikes

Written by Staff Writer

18 Sep, 2019 | 11:09 pm

Colombo (News 1st) – The City of Colombo was chaotic due to the protests led by a number of unions today (18 September). The general public had to pay the price for all the movements made centring the rights of those engaged in protests.
The Non-Academic Staff of Universities gathered in unison along with the University Trade Unions Collective in Colombo today. Following a protest march that began at Torrington and then the Colombo University, the group gathered beside the Town Hall premises.

Heavy traffic was seen immediately after the beginning of the march in Colombo. The groups were demanding solutions to be provided for the existing salary anomalies. However, they had to eventually disperse with no solution to their issues.

Engineers at the Mahaweli Authority carried out a protest opposite the Head Office demanding those salary anomalies that have existed for a long period to be resolved. They continued their march towards the Presidential Secretariat where they handed over an epistle.

Speaking to the media an engineer stated that they had brought engineers belonging to all categories halting their work. He further stressed that they would not move unless a solution is provided despite any actions they take against the protestors.

The group dispersed after an additional Secretary received their epistle on behalf of the President.

War veterans who served for less than 12 years and their families continued the Satyagraha campaign. They had begun the campaign at the Fort Railway Station. They claimed that their pension is extremely little considering their service period. Therefore, the disabled war veterans demanded that necessary amendments be made in that regard.

The group marched to the Presidential Secretariat in order to meet the Secretary to the President.

The group then returned to the location where the Satyagraha was carried out, as they were told that they could not meet the President. They have continued the protest against a backdrop where the President’s cabinet paper to make the necessary amendments have been approved.

The Fort Magistrate also issued an order against these protesters earlier today.

SP Ruwan Gunasekara, Police media spokesperson stated that an order has been issued against the Chairman of the All Ceylon Deceased and Disabled War Veterans, the Chairman of the National Force to protect the rights of War Veterans, and the Convener of the Sinhale Api National Organisation by the Honourable Judiciary. The orders have been issued preventing their entrance to the Presidential Secretariat, the Defence Ministry and 7 other locations. He further added that the Police Authority in charge of Colombo Central and the Fort Police OIC have been granted permissions to take action against those who violate the indicated conditions.

Meanwhile, the Independent Transport Services Union, protesting opposite the Colombo Fort Railway Station, demanded that additional payment of Rs. 2500 given to public servants should be given to employees of the Transport Board as well.

This protest was carried out three days following the beginning of their strike.
Employees belonging to 75 depots that fall under the Transport Board joined the protest.

The Progressive Workers Trade Union of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery also engaged in a strike today. They claimed that the actions of the present Government have led to the breakdown of the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery.

The Govt Medical Officers Association carried out a 24-hour island-wide strike action since 8 am today. They carried out the protest citing a number of demands including resolution of salary anomalies and other issues.

The Govt Medical Officers Association stated that doctors abstained from all services except for Emergency Services. Several civilians speaking to the media lamented on their inability to seek medical treatments due to the absence of doctors who they consider as Gods. Operations at the Emergency Treatment Unit, the Cancer treatment Unit, The maternity ward, and the Kidney Treatment Unit at the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital operated as usual.

Additional Secretary of GMOA, Dr Haritha Aluthge stated that the Minister of Public Administration presented a cabinet paper with a number of groups except for the doctors. “We see this as a decision that seeks to take revenge from the Doctors in the country”, he continued. He reasoned that if that same paper is presented to cabinet on Tuesday they would be compelled to protest again starting 8 AM on Wednesday.

Minister of Public Administration, Disaster Management & Livestock Development, Ranjith Madduma Bandara stated that the doctors who are a part of the Sri Lanka Medical Service have begun a strike They without making a single request from the Ministry of Public Enterprise and no efforts were made to hold discussions as well. He added that whenever they consider the salaries of the Doctors, they have never connected the issue with Executive officers. “I demand the Doctors let go these inconsiderate efforts at a time when there is an election coming up. I would like to say that this Association is the one that functions on political whims. Kindly come for a discussion”, he continued.

While strikes have been launched demanding for increases in salaries and incentives, President Maithripala Sirisena has suspended an incentive worth Rs. 200,000 which was to be given to members of Parliament.

General Secretary of SLFP, Dayasiri Jayasekara highlighted that Colombo seems to be filling up with people since an election is around the corner. “There are strikes morning, noon and night. Therefore we have to think about how we are to carry this operation forward. Based on that, the President has rejected an incentive of Rs.200,000 which was to be given to Parliamentarians”, he continued. He emphasized that the proposal had been made by the other side. He added that Sri Lanka is in a very tight situation as being a country with money deficits.

While Dayasiri Jayasekara made this revelation at an event held to hand over appointment letters to 1,492 graduates, President Maithripala Sirisena who was the Chief Guest at this event, stated that since an election is to be held very soon, the Government has been presenting many appointment letters.

The President, Maithripala Sirisena added that usually September is named the month of literature whereas this month has turned into the month of handing out job appointments. He noted that thousands of people are given jobs at the Temple Trees these days just as in the Ministries. He further emphasized that according to the Election law, jobs cannot be handed out from the first. “Therefore, the literature month has turned into a job month. Unemployment in Sri Lanka is around 5 to 6 per cent”, he continued.

Meanwhile, a cabinet approval has been obtained to provide relief to people who have been subjected to political victimization, amidst objections from the President.

MP of UNP, Palitha Range Bandara stated that the recommendations presented by the President do not seem to have a future. He further emphasized that against such a backdrop, the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers have taken steps to get it approved. He noted that a circular has been issued empowering subject ministers to take action against political victimization of state employees today. He further added that all subject ministers will be able to relieve those state employees who have been subject to political victimization.

At a time where various groups have taken to the streets, demanding higher wages and more incentives, the Prime Minister and his group seem to be squandering public money according to their whims and fancies while handing over appointments and privileges to whoever they please.

Isn’t ignoring the agony of 21 million citizens, a clear depiction of the leadership’s inability?

Corporations of the private sector which employ an excess of 30,000 employees free of any political alignments or influence, continue to serve the country without any employee crises.

Is it not that way as a result of the leadership ability that those companies possess?

Therefore, is it not the time for incapable leaders to step down and allow one who is capable to take the helm?

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