Sri Lanka: Trade unions give ultimatum to end victimisation of activists

Powerful trade unions in Sri Lanka's electricity sector have given an ultimatum of three weeks to the management for the reinstatement of six of their leaders who have been victimised for engaging in trade union activities.

Ceylon Electricity Board Joint Trade Union Alliance (CEBJTU) announcing its decision to launch an indefinite strike from March 14 commenced industrial action on 19 February by hoisting black flags in their workplaces.

"Illegal & Violent"

Ajith Devapriya of Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS), WAP Prabhath, PDS Premalal, DS Wijayalath and Priyantha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka Freedom Workers Union (SLFWU), and convener of  CEBJTU Ranjan Jayalal have been suspended by the management on charges of "illegal and violent operations".

The trade union leaders who visited the management on January 17 flanked by their members to hand over their demands were attacked by the armed Special Task Force (STF).

Further oppression

In a letter to the general manager notifying proposed trade union action, CEBJTU has requested to end the victimisation of trade union activists and reinstate them promptly.

They fear that the management is preparing for further oppression.

Ranjan Jayalal announcing the proposed action to journalists in Colombo accused the CEB management of acting as a "Mafia unable to be controlled even by the line minister".

Trade union leaders at the press briefing vowed to carry on with their industrial action until all the suspended are reinstated unconditionally.