Nearly 1,000 state, semi-government, and private sector trade unions Launch joint token strike and hartal on April 28 in support of the ongoing protests across the country demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna-led Govt.

BY Buddhika Samaraweera and Dinitha Rathnayake

Nearly 1,000 state, semi-government, and private sector trade unions are to engage in a joint token strike and hartal today (28) in support of the ongoing protests across the country demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the current Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna-led Government.

Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (27), the trade union representatives said that the decision to launch the strike and hartal was in support of the strongest people’s struggle ever seen in the history of Sri Lanka.

“Working people are the biggest victims of the current crisis in the country. Despite the sharp decline in their incomes over the past year, the cost of living continues to rise. As a result of the prevailing shortages of milk powder, fuel, pharmaceutical drugs, and many other commodities, the people have been embarrassed like never before,” they mentioned.

They further stated that not only has the Government completely lost the support of the people today, but that it has also lost the support of the majority in Parliament.

The trade union representatives also claimed that the Government is pursuing a repressive policy to suppress the people’s struggle that is currently in progress.

According to them, several trade unions such as the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union, the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, the Health Professionals’ Union, the Inter Company Employees’ Union, the Ceylon Estate Service Union, the Free Trade Union Centre, the All-Ceylon Management Service Officers’ Union, the United Postal Employees’ Union, the Sri Lanka Freedom Employees’ Union, the Ports Clerks’ Union, the Private Sector Employees’ Centre, the National Employees’ Union, the Sri Lanka Freedom Health Service Union, the Locomotive Engine Operators’ Union, the Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters’ Union, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union, the Government Nursing Officers’ Association, and the Principals’ Service Union would be engaged in the strike today.

The Ceylon Bank Employees Union and the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) have also decided to conduct a token strike today (28) to express their anger at the current Government.

Speaking to The Morning, Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU) representative Jayalal Sudesh said that members of five state banks, including Bank of Ceylon, People’s Bank, National Savings Bank, Regional Development Bank, and the State Mortgage and Investment Bank, and private banks including Seylan Bank, Commercial Bank, Hatton National Bank, Sanasa Development Bank, HSBC, Indian Overseas Axis Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank would participate in the strike.

Around 30,000 members would represent the strike action and the rally, heading towards Galle Face. However, essential services including automated teller machines and computerised services will not be affected during the strike.
Meanwhile, the FUTA and all its sister unions representing all state universities, in solidarity with other trade unions representing various state sector employees, will refrain from attending all regular duties today.

In a statement issued in this regard, it said: “We note that this crisis arose through systematic neglect by the Government and its failure to address the basic needs of the people during these very trying times. People have lost their livelihoods, and access to essential commodities, such as fuel, food, and fertiliser, and are left to confront the rising cost of living and food shortages in these uncertain times, with little in the form of direction or support from the Government.

“Education has also been disrupted by these shortages and the impractical solutions provided during the pandemic. The fallout from this crisis has been particularly felt by those who are already vulnerable and marginalised. The gradual weakening of democratic institutions and norms, through fear mongering and scapegoating, with their replacement by authoritarian structures, politicised bodies, and a silenced press, compels the public to take to the streets. Today, the Government has lost all legitimacy and trust and can only remain in power by coercive and violent means. The FUTA stands in solidarity with those who call for change.”

Courtesy:The Morning