Letter from President’s Secretary brings TU strike to a temporary halt 

Thursday, 16 March 2023 01:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Strike paused to analyse and discuss proposals put forward by President 
  • Professionals’ Trade Union Alliance says will recommence strike action if proposals are found to be unsatisfactory or disingenuous
  • Declares general strike a resounding success despite Govt.’s denials

The Professionals’ Trade Union Alliance has decided to temporarily call off its strike action after receiving a communique consisting of several proposals from the Secretary to the President, Saman Ekanayake. 

In the letter addressed to the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), a main trade union leading the strike action, Ekanayake said President Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed him to inform the GMOA of his wish to continue the dialogue with the Trade Unions to resolve the concerns raised by them. 

He added that the President is of the view that through a constructive consultation process, the Government will be able to submit a viable proposal to the IMF at its first review meeting and assured the President will meet the GMOA and others for further discussions in due course. Accordingly, the strike action will come to a halt at 8 a.m. today. 

Holding a press conference yesterday GMOA spokesman Dr. Chamil Waduge announced the decision to temporarily halt the strike action declared by the Professionals’ Trade Union Alliance. 

He said the GMOA and other trade unions were not pleased to announce a strike but were left with no choice as the Government remained silent and refused to respond to their concerns and demands. 

Waduge said several solutions in writing sent by Ekanayake have been received by the GMOA and it is being analysed by the trade unions. “They will be scrutinised and discussed. We will announce our decision to the public shortly,” he said. 

Waduge said if the trade unions find the solutions provided unsatisfactory or disingenuous, they will call for more stringent trade union actions going forward. 

Despite the Government’s attempts to downplay the effects of the strike, Waduge declared it a success. He said the strike action deployed countrywide was continuing successfully covering all hospitals in the country. However, the emergency treatment services continued without any hindrance. Protests by over forty trade unions were held in cities across the country based on eight demands including the reversal of the Government’s new tax regime. 

The President’s Media Division said the Bank of Ceylon General Manager Russell Fonseka confirmed that 265 branches including the head office and all divisions were operating, as usual, to serve the public. However, it failed to mention that 316 branches remained shut. 

PMD quoting Acting CEO/GM Clive Fonseka said 330 People’s Bank branches were operational during the strike. People’s Bank has 739 branches countrywide. 

While a limited number of trains operated to facilitate commuters during office hours, the Fort Railways station and many others were deserted during the rest of the day. Schools were also shut down as teachers and principals joined in the strike. 

The work to rule action by the Air Traffic Controllers Association from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. resulted in the delay of five flights and the arrival of several others during that time. A tense situation arose at the Colombo Port after the dock workers joined the general strike called by a collective of trade unions. Employees were seen engaging in a heated argument with the officials and Sri Lanka Navy personnel on the premises. Chairman of the All Ceylon General Port Employees Union Niroshan Gorakanage said that the SLPA chairman and a group of other officials had attempted to deploy port workers for shipping operations resulting in the tense situation.