Report on Katunayake clashes handed over to President

Thursday, 9 June 2011 00:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Retired Supreme Court Judge Mahanama Thilakarathna today handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa the internal report of the one man committee appointed to inquire into the turbulent incident which took place at Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) on 30 May.

The President appointed a one-man committee led by retired Thilakarathna to probe the incident and prepare a report. Clashes erupted between dissenting garment workers and police after three days of ongoing protest against the proposed Private Pensions Bill, which was outlined in the 2011 Budget.

Police fired live ammunition and teargas at several thousand protestors in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) on 20 May. Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya stepped down from his post and two policemen were arrested the next day.

Industry officials estimate that the strikes by workers in the Katunayake and Biyagama Free Trade Zones (FTZs) last week will cost the apparel industry between US$ 20 million – US$25 million.

The Labour Ministry meanwhile has stated that it will interact with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to formulate a fresh draft of the Pension Bill. The Government had earlier reiterated that a pension scheme for the private sector was part of the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ and therefore another attempt would be made to present a Bill in a different format. According to reports the Ministry has also decided to partner with the Finance and Planning Ministry to draw up the Bill rather than letting the latter handle it, as was previously done.