Accusing the government of a campaign of political revenge, newly-appointed Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday sought clarification on thousands of alleged dismissals in the state sector on political grounds.
Over 6,000 government workers are facing unemployment as a result of politically motivated dismissals or cancellations of appointments made by the previous government, Premadasa said.
“Instead of implementing its manifesto, the new government is engaging in political revenge in the form a witch hunt against opposition MPs, cancelling job appointments made by the previous government as well as firing them,” Premadasa told Parliament yesterday.
The people who voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as dismayed by the actions of the new government, he added.
Detailing the alleged discrimination, Premadasa said 167 new appointments to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) have already been dismissed. Some 6,080 project assistants employed by the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training & Skills Development and Youth Affairs have also been let go.
“This level of political revenge is unprecedented. When we took over the government in 2015, we didn’t resort to any political revenge and protected the job security of all state sector employees,” he said.
“We ask the government if it will stop putting thousands of workers on the streets, and whether and when it will reappoint those unfairly removed from their jobs,” he added.
Premadasa, having delivered his prepared statement, was about to speak further when Minister Wimal Weerawansa said parliamentary privileges don’t provide for the Opposition Leader to make a speech in addition to a prepared statement.
At which point, Premadasa said: “I would like to remind the honourable, educated minister that freedom of speech is still alive.”
Premadasa then proceeded to remind the government of a 100,000 jobs promised in President Rajapaksa’s election manifesto.
“If there are plans to provide 100,000 jobs from January, is that going to be at the expense of another 100,000 who stand to lose their jobs? It’s not just us [in the opposition], but the whole country knows it’s a violation of fundamental rights,” he said.