In an unprecedented move, trade unions affiliated to the JVP and UNP yesterday vowed to bring President Mahinda Rajapaksa s government to its knees unless the government granted them a salary increase with immediate effect.
The anticipated move comes close on the heels of the JVP and the UNP agreeing to field a common candidate to face President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the event he called an early presidential election.
Addressing a press conference at Hotel Nippon, Ranjan Jayalal (JVP), Ananda Palitha (JSS), Udeni J. Kaluthantri (JSS), Chandrasiri Mahagamage (JVP) and Upali Ratnayake (JVP) said that they would launch a three-day work-to-rule campaign on Wednesday (Nov 11). Unless the government granted their demand in keeping with the collective agreements between the government and petroleum, electricity, port and water board workers.
They urged the people not to be deceived by UPFA attempts to show that their action was part of an anti-government conspiracy.
They said that the government would not be able to deploy the armed forces to maintain services. Speaking on behalf of port workers, Mahagamage accused the port management of adopting military-style methods to suppress trade unions. He said that whatever the tactics employed by the government, they would go ahead with planned action unless they received a long overdue salary increase.
Jayalal said that in keeping with their collective agreements, they should have received a salary increase in January this year. Unlike other public sector workers, they did not receive annual increments, he said, adding that collective agreements envisaged pay hike once in three years.
Ananda Palitha said that the government had increased salaries and other perks and privileges of politicians and senior officials, whereas they had been denied pay a hike. He said that politicians and their henchmen had served themselves though workers were denied even the normal pay hike.
Udeni Kaluthantri said that essential services would collapse once workers suspended additional work for which they received overtime .
JVP and UNP unions said that they had turned down a government call for a meeting today (Nov 9) between CPC unions and the Treasury. They said that the proposed meeting should be attended by senior representatives of four unions involved in the trade union campaign.