|Thursday, 1 May 2003|
We condemn violations of employee rights
Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Opposition in a May Day message states: Today we commemorate the historic May Day which originated from a great struggle of the heroic working people in Chicago, in the USA against the injustices they faced. They fought for their due rights shedding their blood which stained their clothes red. These became the red banners of their struggle for justice.
May Day is the day to conceive new expectations. Hence this May day has become a very special day as we are confronting a threat of loosing the rights we have already won throughout history.
The time has come again to reorganize ourselves against the threat of neo-colonialism which is raising its head, in order to protect the worker who is the life blood of the work place.
On this May Day we categorically condemn the present violations of employee rights and we determine ourselves to fight against the inhuman threats targeted at the working classes, who are also harassed with the sky rocketing cost of living.
We take this opportunity not only to strengthen ourselves to protect the rights of employees which were achieved through struggles with lives sacrificed by the heroes in the past, but also to confirm that human resource is the most valuable resource on Earth. Victory to the working classes!
Rally round JVP to revive economy
The JVP in a May Day message issued yesterday has called upon the workers and the general public to rally round it to drive away the UNP regime and instal a true people's government which could revive the national economy and culture, strengthen workers and foster national unity by defeating separation.
The message said the working class movement has gained a chequered history of victories and setbacks ever since May Day was proclaimed in Chicago, USA on May 1, 1886.
Generally speaking the working class movement has today faired a situation where it is losing the rights it had gained over the years.
On the one hand the world has come under the influence of a single hemisphere. Western Imperialists led by the USA are rallying round like invaders to decide the fate of the entire world according to their own needs. States like Sri Lanka which have been subjugated by them through non-military means have failed to act independently. Their economic policies, political path and socio-cultural fate are decided according to the needs of the new-colonialism of the USA.
The laws of these countries are being drafted according to IMF and World Bank specifications. The state sector in these countries are being wilfully diluted while state welfare facilities are being systematically pruned.
The sale of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation which has been a profitable venture to a bosom friend of the UNP allegedly to a figure which below its true value can be described as a mother fulfilment of an IMF specification to handover the entire financial sector to the local and foreign private sector.
In this situation most workers in Sri Lanka have been losing their rights like the 8 hour working day, pension entitlements and other protective labour laws.
We should also note that the division of Sri Lanka into two weak states is another part of a grand plan of US Imperialism for which Norway has been sent as its agent.
"The UNP government which is trying to kill the national economy in the name of economic prosperity on the one hand is setting the stage for a state of Eelam by dancing according to the tune of Norway to satisfy separatist terrorists on the other.
By pruning the fertiliser and Samurdhi subsidies, depriving students of school uniforms through indirect means, undermining local cultural and social values through the machinations of its media brigade, heaping unbearable taxes on the ordinary public and announcing tax holidays for hoarders of black money and casino operators the UNP government has been catering to the needs of its Imperialists masters. Therefore workers on this May Day should resolve to rally round to change this disastrous socio-economic and political environment by defeating the UNP government which is a puppet of the US imperialism and instal a true people's government which could revive the economy and culture, strengthen workers and faster national unit by defeating separatism.
Achieve aims through industrial peace
The All Ceylon Union of Government English Teachers, President, M. A. Stanley Perera in his May Day Message states the main task before the Government and Norwegian Monitors is to bring back LTTE to the negotiating table.
The main responsibility before the working class today is their march forward with unity towards a lasting political solution to end the ethnic crisis which is the main cause of so many ills of our times.
The Message also stated that among the main obstacles against this forward march, the destructive war looms large. The War consumes our resources, dwindles our economy and hamper our progress.
On this great day, I wish the Sri Lankans will have the courage and strength to take Sri Lanka to the state of prosperity and also achieve their aims and objectives through the Industrial Peace in the country.
The Trade unionism as ACUGET conceive it based on values. This 1st of May reminds of the truth that is profoundly in the history of the Workers' movement unity.
Stop the erosion of the rights of the working class
- Alavi Mowlana - Convenor - United May Day Rally
It has been my pleasure to always identify myself with the working class and the down trodden and it is a privilege to be with them on such a joyous occasion as May Day for well over forty years. Emancipation of workers rights and privileges was originated in most unexpected soil the Valiant fighters gathered in Chicago on 1st of May, 1886 to stake their just demands since they could not take repressions of their unscrupulous.
Masters and Lords anymore. Some had to pay the supreme sacrifice so the others could still enjoy the benefits and perks. May Day is a solemn tribute to their departed souls and we reverently salute them.
Though Ceylon was granted Independence and self-rule in 1948, the real freedom was dawned with the advent of SWRD rule in 1956. Humanist to the core, he restored the dignity of the labour in the Island nation. May Day was declared a workers' day and several progressive legislations were enacted to safeguard the rights of the workers. He was a pathfinder of people friendly government to the whole of Asia and they emulated him in certain aspects.
This trend continued during the era of his wife Madam Srimavo Bandaranaike. It is relevant and educative to recall the dark era for workers and toiling masses was begun during the UNP regime. Pointing guns at the innocent workers that began in the earlier stints continued in more sophisticated ways in successive administration. Ministers led the thugs and undesirables to silence the workers.
A mere demand of Rs. 10 by the toiling workers earned the wrath of Power-that-be which unleashed tyranny that was never witnessed before. It is very unfortunate that this country that the country was able to have a President who restored the values of humanity.
Yet again the conspirators and the plotters brought down the people friendly Government and replaced with a capitalist Government. Today the working class of this country is facing a tremendous pressure to be or not to be. The Government unmindful of workers privileges and rights, goes on privatising state ventures on the flimsy grounds.
Opposing views, others than what Governmental Czars consider sacred and sacrosanct are suppressed. General masses have no way to voice their disapproval, since the media is under the clutches of the Government. In such a gloomy scenario the workers day is being celebrated in Sri Lanka. It is pertinent to call my fellow workers and comrades to look inward. There is always danger to the workers movement with the inclusion of bogus saviours. It is a ploy by the vested interests to bring disunity and disharmony among the trade unions.
Let us not take things meekly.
Be united and show the Government that the workers rights could not be tempered with impunity.
A bright future for the working class
M. H. Mohamed, Minister of Western Region Development
I send my warm greetings to all the working people of Sri Lanka on this May Day when workers throughout the world are celebrating their achievements.
As a former Minister of Labour, I am well aware of the problems faced by the working people of this country and the envisaged reforms in this sector will ensure a better future for all.
Our celebrations on this May Day becomes much more significant as we are able to celebrate it in a very optimistic and free environment. Our decade long internal conflict, which effected all sectors and especially the working class, is coming to an end. The dawn of peace and the rapid developments that will take place, will usher a very prosperous future for our country and our working masses. Therefore it is our duty on this day to re-dedicate ourselves to the peace process and resolve to contribute in our own way for its success.
I am confident that with the implementation of our development programmes, all the working people in our country will be able to enjoy better working conditions and a prosperous future.
Relief for workers the key message
On the occasion when May Day that is dedicated to Workers rights is celebrated with slogans and strength in numbers calling for relief for the working population to enable the workers to have a simple life free from want and obtain their vital requirements with the means at their disposal without anticipating the much publicised handouts.
The era of handouts only to some in need will not effectively solve the problem faced by many. So the solution to the problem lies in a vigorous effort to provide opportunities to generate income and for cash formation in the hand of the working population to step forward from the poverty line.
What is therefore required is a joint effort by the Government and Opposition to satisfy the people's aspirations to obtain the basic essential requirements in food, clothing and shelter, which is now not within their reach. These essential requirements are today escalating in value. The price increases in value and the decreasing quantity that can therefore be obtained with limited resources making life miserable, with the cost of living rising and income generation stagnant and depreciating, with no visible signs of relief, since the Wages are not in proportion to the rising prices.
The eager expectations of the people to obtain their essential requirements is at present only a dream with the limited resources.
The unemployment that is continuing to aggravate without any significant moves to solve the issue is also causing problems which should be tackled effectively and jointly by the people's representatives in the Government and Opposition as a priority, looking forward as a vision for redress without any political strings attached.
So let us resolve to contribute to solve the problems that can be solved by effective and dedicated action that has to be implemented so that the problems faced by the people will gradually be relieved as the Consumer is the end user and therefore has to Hear the entire burden of all measures introduced. States Ismeth Ghouse, Secretary General of the All Ceylon Muslim League Political Wing.
Produced by Lake House