The JVP-UNP trade union combine is scheduled to launch its much advertised go-slow in the petroleum, electricity, water and ports sectors demanding a pay hike. Panic buying of fuel began on Monday evening and with a reduction in supplies, a fuel shortage is likely to occur within a day or two.
The CEB and the Water Board will not attend to breakdowns and it is likely that the people will be made to undergo untold suffering, especially in the populous urban centres like Colombo. The Port unions will go all out to cause undue delays and make the country pay for them.
Protesting workers have a grievance all right they have not got a pay hike they are entitled to every three years, we are told. They claim the government has violated a collective agreement. If so, why can`t they take legal action against the alleged breach of contract and haul up some government worthies before Courts? The ordinary people are no party to the dispute and they must not be made to suffer for no fault of theirs. Trade unions must not hold millions of citizens to ransom to get a pay hike for a few thousand workers including many freeloaders.
Today`s go-slow, launched a few days ahead of an announcement to be made of a vital election has the trappings of the inauguration of a political campaign. For, its organisers are a bunch of politicians, who have resorted to trade union action in spite of a government assurance that the pay hike at issue will be granted early next year.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has, according to the State media, said he will defeat an attempt being made in some quarters to unleash anarchy. In a television interview on Monday night, he recalled how some political elements had tried to destabilise the country while the army was fighting in the outskirts of Kilinochchi. Although no names were named, it was clear that the JVP was the culprit.
The people have suffered for thirty long years braving as they did bombs and bullets of the northern terrorists. With the decimation of the LTTE, they expected a life free from trouble, which they richly deserve. But, they have had to contend with another form of terrorism being unleashed by the trade union Mafia. There seems to be no end to their suffering!
It is hoped that President Rajapaksa will translate his rhetoric into action and deal with the trade union terrorism and ensure a trouble free life for the public. If the trade union Mafia is allowed to have its way, the day may not be far off when it seeks to run a parallel government by virtue of their hold on some key State institutions. Workers` rights must be guaranteed and their grievances redressed but on no grounds must politicians be allowed to use them to further their interests at the expense of the public.
What the JVP-UNP TU combine must bear in mind is that those who will suffer most owing to their go-slows and strikes are not the Rajapaksas, the government politicians or the affluent segments of society but the ordinary masses who pay the salaries of the workers on the warpath.
Tens of thousands of students are sitting the GCE (O/L) examination shortly. The JVP and the UNP make a hue and cry every time they spot an error in a term test paper but together they are trying to plunge the country into chaos in spite of the year-end school term tests.
The warring trade unions through their arrogant muscle flexing only make a strong case for the divestiture of the public ventures, especially the loss incurring ones in the clutches of the trade union Mafia. The public must be asking themselves why they should continue to pay for the maintenance of such enterprises.
While the government and the Opposition trade unions are engaged in what has turned out to be a prestige battle, someone must seriously consider exploring the possibility of moving the judiciary against the disruption of essential services, especially water, which is a basic need.