Migrant workers’ organisation pledges support to opposition candidate

Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A powerful migrant workers’ organisation in Sri Lanka, All Island Middle-East Employees Organisation on Saturday pledged support to the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at next month’s presidential elections. Addressing media at the common opposition candidate’s operational headquarters president of the organisation Ranjith Nanayakkara assured the support of 149,000 families in his organisation to ensure the victory of the opposition candidate. The organisation had supported President Mahinda Rajapaksa at his re-election in 2010. Speaking to the media, Nanayakkara said the President had promised to establish a pension scheme to the Sri Lankan migrant workers employed in the Middle East but it never materialised. He said currently there are about 1.5 million migrant workers employed in Middle Eastern countries and about 3 million former migrant workers are in the country. Nanayakkara pointed out that these migrant workers come back after about five years of service and sometimes become ill but they don’t have the means or facilities and undergo untold hardships. He said in 2005 the President included a pension scheme for the migrant workers in his ‘Mahinda Chintana’ policy and then again in the ‘Mahinda Chintana Future Vision’ in 2010 but no pension scheme has been established yet. The organisation did not even get a chance to present a proposal this time, Nanayakkara added. The organisation has therefore, decided to support the common opposition candidate at the presidential elections this time. The common opposition candidate in his election manifesto, released Friday, promised to start a pension scheme for the migrant workers. He also pledged to add an interest of 2.5% to the current interest rate of their non-residential accounts. Also, a special family protection program will be started to look after the families of Sri Lankans labouring in foreign countries including those of the Middle East. Nanayakkara said the organisation is confident of the pension and life insurance scheme promised by the common opposition candidate and it is ready to ensure his victory.