Mar 15, Colombo: Many trade unions in Sri Lanka have launched a general strike today based on several demands such as withdrawal of the government’s new tax policy, reduction of electricity bills, and reduction of bank interest rates.
More than 40 trade unions attached to several sectors join the strike, organized by the trade unions of professionals, and many other state and semi-state trade unions will also support this strike.
Trade Unions collective said since they have not received favorable responses from authorities for their demands, they are staging a mass strike today.
Due to the strike, services have already been disrupted in many sectors including health, post, and railways while workers of other sectors including Education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development and banking services are also joining the trade union action.
Meanwhile, private bus operators, several unions attached to Sri Lanka Railways and certain health sector unions have indicated that they will not join the planned strike.
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) said that the continuous nationwide strike will start from 08 this morning. Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe, the spokesperson of the Government Medical Officers Association, said that the strike will be implemented in all hospitals in the nine provinces across the island, from national hospitals to peripheral hospitals. He said that the government should take responsibility for the suffering of the people.
However, the Government Medical Officers Forum said its doctors will not participate in the strike. Chairman of the union, Dr. Rukshan Bellana said he condemns this strike which further burdens the people.
Nearly 40,000 nurses will also participate in today’s strike.
The Joint Force of Paramedic Professionals stressed that the strike would become a continuous struggle if the army-police were deployed to the hospitals.
Mahinda Jayasinghe, General Secretary of Ceylon Teachers Service Association, said that teacher principal associations are also going on a one-day strike today.
The non-academic staff of the universities are on strike today in support of the ongoing strike of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association, which was implemented on the 7th.
Shyamal Sumanaratne, General Secretary of the Port Union Progressive Employees Union, said that all trade unions of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will withdraw from work today.
All trade unions of Ceylon Electricity Board have decided to report sick leave today. Only power plants and essential services will continue to operate as normal, Ranjan Jayalal, General Secretary of the Ceylon Electricity Workers’ Union said.
Mr. Thisara Amarananda, President of the Sri Lanka Air Traffic Controllers Association, said that air traffic controllers have also decided to engage in a "working to the letter" trade union action today from 12.00 noon to 02.00 pm in support of the ongoing strike.
The union warned that due to this professional action, there may be delays in flights departing and arriving from Sri Lanka.
The cabinet spokesperson Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday emphasized that the government has made services such as transport, port, traffic, post and electricity, as essential services and accordingly, if the general law of the country is violated, the measures will be taken after the law has been violated.
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