The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) ca`canny aka known as a work-to-rule campaign entered the fourth day yesterday and most refilling stations around the country had gone dry for want of supplies and owing to panic buying. Long queues of vehicles near fuel stations could be seen in most parts of the country. Colombo was the worst affected by the fuel shortage.
Protesting unions say a pay hike, which they are entitled to every three years, has not yet been granted. Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development A. H. M. Fowzie has resorted to his usual gobbledygook and obfuscation. Last Friday, he said he was expecting the arrival of President Mahinda Rajapaksa from an overseas visit to settle the dispute.
If a minister cannot sort out a simple matter like an inordinate delay in the payment of a pay hike, he is not certainly worth his salt. It behoves the President to sack him and take over the ministry. Minister Fowzie`s failure to settle the CPC go-slow on his own steam is a damning indictment not only on him but also the entire jumbo Cabinet.
The CPC workers are certainly at fault. They are much better paid than most others in the State sector. Those who handle a vital service must act with utmost responsibility.
State employees who strike work or resort to disruptive activities putting forth various demands ought to remember that the armed forces that saved this country from terrorism in a war fought under trying conditions and lost thousands of their members in the process have never made an issue of their salaries or allowances. They did not stop at the outskirts of Kilinochchi and refuse to forge ahead until their salaries were increased, did they?
It is not being argued that the CPC workers must not fight for their rights. They have a right to do so but, they must not be allowed to hold the hapless public and the national economy which shows signs of recovery, to ransom, to win their demands. The country not to be confused with the UPFA government is trying its best to attract investment and step up her GDP to repair her economy and irresponsible trade union action only put paid to that national effort.
There are bankrupt anarcho-radical political elements with no hope of recovering from their disastrous electoral defeats and they must be prevented from flexing their trade union muscles to gain political mileage. Having already ruined the university system with violent protests, they are all out to wreak havoc on other Sate institutions. Workers must be wary of being lured by those satanic forces masquerading as liberators into trade union traps.
Now that President Rajapaksa has returned home, steps must be taken to sort out the CPC go-slow and restore the fuel supply without further delay. The government`s failure to do so will only prompt the calculating anarchists to spread their tentacles to other sectors and plunge the country into chaos. It may be recalled that they have already threatened to make workers take to the streets. The trade union Mafia seems to have dipped its toe in the water (or oil) by launching the CPC protest.
Let the genuine grievances of workers be redressed, without allowing union Mafiosi to capitalise on them, and trade union terrorism nipped in the bud.
CPC unions announced last night that they would call off their go-slow but that could be a ruse. The government must take precautions and be prepared for politically motivated wild cat strikes.