Sri Lankan unions sell out railway workers and call off strike
13 August 2018
Railway trade union leaders unilaterally shut down indefinite strike action yesterday after a morning meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and members of a railway cabinet sub-committee. None of the workers’ demands were granted and no mass meetings called to discuss the betrayal.
Desperate to end all industrial action the rail union leaders, like the government itself, feared that the strike could escalate out of control, drawing in other sections of the working class to challenge Colombo’s social austerity and cost-cutting privatisation agenda.
The hurriedly convened Sunday morning meeting was held at Sirisena’s private residence in Polonnaruwa, his traditional parliamentary constituency.
Speaking to journalists outside Sirisena’s residence after the meeting, rail union leaders repeated their usual pathetic claims: “The president has promised to provide solutions to our demands.” These lines that have been used at least half a dozen times in the last few years in order to shut down strike action by railway workers.
Government minister and spokesman for the cabinet sub-committee Sarath Amunugama, however, detailed the terms agreed by the unions. The sellout deal includes the following:
1) Railway, health and education sectors will be transformed into closed services with concrete proposals for these changes to be presented to the next cabinet meeting.
2) There should be no new recruits and examinations held in the railways until the next discussion between the two parties.
3) Matters regarding administrative and salary issues of railway officers are to be discussed with the representatives of the relevant trade unions.
4) No disciplinary action…