|Thursday, 8 January 2004|
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Unjustifiable trade union action
The frequent strikes called by Trade Unions in the State Sector on essential services such as electricity, health, water etc. have caused immense hardships, inconvenience and financial distress to the people.
The Health Sector employees in particular, including responsible persons like the doctors have resorted to strike action making demands which are seemingly beyond reach seriously affecting the poor patients in instances resulting in death. Strike action as we have heard is the result of the failure to reach consensus at initial negotiations. The current trade Union leaders lead their flock always for wage hike demands having plunged the country into crisis.
This malaise has now spread to the private sector as well when they see that strike action in the State Sector is always a success.
Trade Unions in this country form a heartless tribe thinking only of themselves ignoring the plight of the people. They seldom think of how the Government finds the extra money in Government coffers to dole out in this manner.
The Government authorities responsible on the other hand are partly to be blamed in not correcting any salary anomalies or unsatisfactory working conditions that exist when pointed out without awaiting confrontation.
The word "strike" now is anathema to the ordinary man and cannot the Government enact legislation to ban strikes at least for a specific period until the country's economic prospects are favourable particularly when the war is not completely over.
The Government on the other hand just meekly gives in to the unjustifiable trade union demands without even a warning the union leaders that severe disciplinary action including dismissal would follow in the event of a strike. It is time that the Government stands firm on certain issues considered to be unjust notwithstanding the oft repeated mythical "violation of fundamental rights" etc.
W. KARUNAWEERA, Nugegoda
The President and the Prime Minister have now taken a serious view of the problem of the people in the divide face. And they seem to understand and attempting to prevent a dangerous situation that could destroy the whole nation. Their enlightenment speaks for their statesmanship. And the LTTE supremo, considered by many Thamils as the present militant and political leader of their community seems to be not aggressive at the moment accepting realities.
These are good signs for a future with understanding. After all, it is the people of all communities who matter than the individual frailties of the politicians who are given power to determine our destiny.
Terrorism of any kind, state or militant is not pardonable because more than the aimed, it is the innocent people whose precious lives are lost.
Apart from politics, there is personal rivalry and individuality of the leaders concerned in this imbroglio. And again if men are from the Mars and women are from the Venus. the makeup and temperament of the actors concerned also should be accepted. Respect for each other and compromise among them is essential. Those in the fringe exhibiting idealism based on a world that has changed drastically over the centuries would then be magnetized.
Here are some suggestions from a layman, which can be explored.
1. Abolish the Presidential form of Government and the PR system and revert to parliamentary democracy.
2. Plan ethnic slander and consider the value of each individual human, irrespective of who they are.
3. Teach all children conversational Sinhala and Tamil and English before teaching them the finer points of the languages concerned.
4. Have only two or three political parties with similar or near-similar views joining the major parties.
5. Invite all militants from the divide to contribute their share to the existence and development of the country and convince them that ultra nationalism on ethnic grounds could no more hold water.
6. Respect the individual cultural identity of all individuals and groups or communities.
7. Remove the fear that some members of the majority community have regarding their future and some members of the Tamil community that they are being subjugated by the tyranny of the majority.
8. All political parties and militant groups should review and overhaul their entire policies and goals to accommodate the emergence of a new Sri Lanka.
Even such 'impossibles' can be worked out successfully, if everybody is sincere in his or her purpose.
K. S. SIVAKUMARAN, USA
Political assaults on public officers
We very often hear of Parliamentarians, including those holding ministerial portfolios and their henchmen attacking or harassing senior public officers who do not act according to their whims and fancies but stick to their administratively permissible duties.
We also hear of Ministers who prevent the ministry secretaries who are the chief administrative and accounting officers of their ministries from entering their offices do their job, for which they are employed by the people. There are also Ministers who tell the people from public platforms not to respect judicial judgements which do not meet their satisfaction.
Although our Ministers attack public officers so freely can any public officer question any Minister as to whether he himself do any job except telling the people that, but for the foreign aid, there await only starvation and unemployment for them. Does anyone tells us, how he proposes to make us the masters of our destiny? It is pathetic that while making the country lurch from crisis to crisis and from makeshift to makeshift, they also attack innocent public officers including those in the highest ranks.
Now they argue that they cannot do any good job because the government is unstable. But who else is responsible for that situation except themselves who introduced that Constitution which has produced that unprecedented crisis.
Further, as a solution to that situation people have ambitiously suggested that the Government and the Opposition join hands and form a government strong enough to tackle at least the main issue, which is securing peace and harmony among our people. Every politician seems to be committed to that political "consensus" but none is ready to compromise. On the top of all their failures, they also assault innocent public officers even holding the topmost posts.
It is pathetic that even as legislators, they refuse to respect the theory that every public officer, as any other citizen, is entitled to the fundamental right to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty and if there is any ground on which he could be charged, that he should be given an adequate opportunity to defend himself. Further, whether he is a Minister or a King, he is not entitled to be the judge of his own case and punish anyone arbitrarily.
Of course, one cannot advocate the thesis that all our politicians are wicked. We have many gentleman politicians who are committed to do their job in the national interest but there are some who are intoxicated with power and act in manner detrimental to the interest of the people.
These politicians should be mindful, that it is at the next election that the people will give their 'assault'.
A.R.M.T.B. RATNAYAKE, Watapuluwa
Having been involved in the tea industry for over fifty years it was indeed shocking to read in the daily press that adulterated and generally tea not fit for drinking is being marketed in the country.
Probably exports could be no better. To confirm this I too had an experience a few days ago.
I bought a packet of tea packed in the usual colourful manner from a retail shop. On opening the packet I was completely dumbfounded when I saw the tea in small lumps and the black colour completely changed.
Having not seen tea in this form I began to wonder what has happened or happening to our tea industry. There are various types or class of tea available in the market with bio tea presently being popularised, the commercial market is virtually full.
In the past what was important was quality production or conventional black tea which was greatly appreciated by the consumer. The method adopted and supervision maintained was effective. I can vouch for it having been resident planter on the estates for many years.
There is a Tea Research Institute which guides the plantations in both field and quality manufacture. However, regrettably there are lapses which should be arrested. Earlier the better because tea brings the much needed foreign exchange for development.
Also the established reputation of the 'Ceylon Tea' should be protected.
E. SABARETNAM, Rajagiriya
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