There is an agitation by state sector employees. It is an effective campaign that has shaken the government. The state sector employees in general either remained silent or launched protests confined to their trade disputes. General issues were carefully set aside; as any agitation on such general problems could breach their understanding with the government.
There was a general belief that the government is worker-friendly. Such beliefs were based on two factors. Firstly, that Mahinda was Labour Minister in Chandrika's government and he stood for workers’ rights. In fact he led the formulation of the workers' charter though it is yet to be implemented. Secondly, the communist party and the old Lanka Sama Samaja Party with Vasudeva are components in the government. From time to time they bring out workers' issues within Cabinet sessions, much to the amusement of the others in the Cabinet. However, this belief and the friendship with the Mahinda regime are breaking down. It started at the top among the doctors, engineers, and university teachers. They simply could not lead a simple middle class life with the salaries given. Hence they came out without any regard for the promises given by the government. Now it has spread to other sectors. Sectors such as railways, printing, postal etc are openly agitating against the government. Teachers too came out in many areas though they are tied down with tuition classes that keep their income at a reasonable level.
"Firstly, that Mahinda was Labour Minister in Chandrika's government and he stood for workers’ rights. In fact he led the formulation of the workers charter though it is yet to be implemented. Secondly, the communist party and the old Lanka Sama Samaja Party with Vasudeva are components in the government. From time to time they bring out worker’s issues within Cabinet sessions, much to the amusement of the others in the Cabinet"
Even today the doctors take the initiative in the struggle for justice. The Executive Committee of the GMOA at an emergency meeting held recently decided to launch an indefinite islandwide strike in protest against non-implementation of the Medical Service Minute. They claim that the Public Service Commission deliberately and repeatedly delayed the implementation of service minute although the Finance, Public Administration, Ministry of Health and the Salaries and Cadre Commission had approved the service minute. The GMOA previously postponed the strike planned, on the assurance of the Secretary, Ministry of Finance that a solution would be provided through the President’s involvement. However, nothing has been done. Hence the PSC should bear the responsibility for crippling health care services throughout the country; because all government medical institutions in the country except the LRH, Cancer Institute – Maharagama, Castle Street Maternity hospital, and De Soysa Maternity hospital would be affected by the strike, though all the emergencies will be attended to. The struggle of doctors remain an example to all professionals and government sector workers in their campaigns to achieve a just solution to the problems faced.
In the private sector the most important issue has been the implementation of the cost of living allowance. Though state sector salaries are increased every year, such increases are nowhere near the actual compensation they should get for the price increases. Discrimination in the payment of the Cost of Living Allowance (CLA) for public and private sector employees and the failure to gazette the new unit cost of Rs.280 computed by the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) have prompted trade unions to launch protest campaigns against the government. This agitation has developed into a united fight against the government. Linus Jayathilaka, president of the United Federation of Labour, said “though private sector employers are still not legally bound to pay CLA to their workers, after struggles and intense negotiations some firms agreed to make payments as they have entered into collective agreements with trade unions”. However, he said a joint struggle is necessary for a legal binding.
"Even today the doctors take the initiative in the struggle for justice. The Executive Committee of the GMOA at an emergency meeting held recently decided to launch an indefinite islandwide strike in protest against non-implementation of the Medical Service Minute"
The CCPI (1952=100) had been used as the official Consumer Price Index of Sri Lanka from 1953 to November 2008, till a new CCPI was introduced. The new index called the CCPI (N) is based on the 2002 consumption patterns of all urban households in Colombo. Accordingly the unit cost was Rs.180 but the employers' union agreed only to pay CLA at the rate of Rs.67 per each point rise in the index. Trade unions are agitating against this condition as a let down. They argue that according to the base expenditure value of the revised index of Rs.27, 972.11, the unit cost of the index should be Rs. 279.7 or Rs.280. The unions are demanding to gazette this unit cost, but officials of the Labour Ministry say that is not a mandatory requirement. Linus explained that they are demanding the authorities to gazette the new unit cost of the cost of living index amounting to Rs.280 and pay the cost of living allowance for all private sector employees. He said though his federation was able to go up to Rs104, it is not satisfactory. Hence United Federation of Labour has filed action in the Appeal Court to force the government to gazette the ruling to pay Rs 280 per unit cost of living index. This is discrimination, and the government should rectify it.
He revealed that his trade union will continue the agitation; in addition to the legal action the ULF has already conducted a series of protest campaigns demanding the authorities to gazette the new cost of living allowance unit cost for the private and semi government sectors; it will continue in the coming period.
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