Sri Lankan unions betray national postal strike
28 June 2018
The Sri Lankan postal unions called off a 16-day national strike by more than 25,000 workers at midnight on Tuesday. None of the demands were met. Union officials ended the industrial action without calling mass meetings after accepting vague promises made during discussions with the Postal Services Minister M.H.A. Haleem and other government officials.
The unions’ demands included a revision of recruiting procedures, the re-establishment of 18 junior grades positions, permanency for officers who have been on probation for more than five years, and inclusion of deputy postmasters in the consolidated postal service.
The unions worked from the outset to limit and isolate the indefinite walkout, which began on June 11. Postal union members, however, made clear at every opportunity that they were determined to remain on strike until the government granted all of their claims.
Four thousand workers demonstrated in Colombo on June 20 and protests were held on June 25 in towns and cities across Sri Lanka, including Kandy, Matara, Galle, Ambalangoda, Hatton and Colombo.
Strikers defied threats by the government and the postal authorities. The postmaster general cancelled their leave, threatened to suspend those who failed to report for work and to stop salary payments during the walkout. The government deployed police in post offices to break the strike under the pretext of protecting employees who had returned to work.
Union of Postal and Telecommunication Officers (UPTO) secretary H.K. Kariyawasam told the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) that his union would receive a “written promise” from the National Salary and Cadre Commission (NSCC) within two to three months. He claimed that the postal…