Trade unions and the public interest
THE Government's decision to revoke
regulations invoked under clause 5 of the Public Security Act, which
rendered several public services as essential, has helped defuse
possible trade union unrest and brought greater understanding between
the State and the working population.
We hope that the degree of cordiality which has been established
between the parties would place their relations on a prolonged, amicable
footing and result in long-standing industrial peace and worker
contentment. In this situation, the State has acted with considerable
forethought and sensitivity.
To begin with, if the Government had gone ahead with the Essential
Services orders, disregarding trade union objections, the State would
have been criticized as being labour unfriendly and authoritarian in
It could have been accused of acting with the proverbial Iron Fist.
Besides, the State could have been projected as being insensitive to the
basic needs of the public.
Accordingly, the Government has acted right by effecting the relevant
revocations. In the short-term it has defused a possible confrontational
situation. In the medium and long-terms the State has set the stage for
cordial government-worker relations and a degree of industrial peace.
An atmosphere of calm and contentment in the country would make
everyone in Sri Lanka a winner. The State could take the credit for
laying the basis for such a happy state of affairs. However, the
Government's good intentions should be readily reciprocated by the
relevant trade unions.
Continued industrial peace needs to be predicated on the foresight,
not only on the part of the Government but also on that of the working
people and their trade union representatives. The trade unions need to
act from now, with the greatest sense of responsibility. They cannot
launch wild cat strikes, for example, without, first, seeking to resolve
their problems through discussions with the State.
Besides, trade unions need to act with forbearance and patience. They
certainly cannot take precipitate strike action without discussing their
grievances with the State. Even so, they need to consider whether their
demands are just. They also need to ponder deeply on the consequences of
their action. Would such action bring suffering and hardships on the
people, for example?
Therefore, the days ahead could be regarded as a period of test for
these trade unions. We hope, they would meet the test easily.
These reflections are forced on us by the disturbing memories of
recent wild cat strikes which brought untold suffering on the people.
Strikes in the health, power and transport sectors, for example, always
grievously hurt the ordinary people of this country. Besides, some trade
unions have not always been reasonable and discreet. Not all trade
unions have weighed the consequences of their actions before striking.
The people and the people only, have suffered incalculably in these
strikes. Therefore, the trade union community needs to act with a high
sense of responsibility from now on. It must be also considered that the
country's economy would suffer gravely as a result of these strikes.
The recent "go slow" at the Colombo Port is a case in point. Millions
were lost by Sri Lanka as a result of the strike. Therefore, we call for
a positive approach on the part of trade unions in these matters. Work
constructively with the Government - we urge them.
The United Nations Human Rights Council - a new beginning?
The United Nations General Assembly, on March 15,
2006, decided to replace the existing Human Rights Commission with a
new Human Rights Council, which is responsible for promoting
universal respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental
human rights for every citizen of the globe fairly and equally
without any distinction of any kind.
President assures a political solution under one flag in a
united country and power sharing with Tamils
In an interview with Tamil Osai, BBC Tamil
Services, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said there will be a political
solution under one flag in a united country with sharing of powers
with the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
S. W. R. D. - in perspective
Yet others believed SWRD between 1948-1952 -
being a part of the pukka sahib establishment is unlikely to resort
to the sacrosanct factor of raising the communal bogey purely to
come to power. The rest is now history.
English: has the argument to go on?
New school teachers entering the Government
schools system would also be trained. It was expected that the cost
of training would be borne out of foreign aid funds made available
under the 'Education for All' programme and other foreign-funded
programmes of the Ministry of Education.