5/31/2011

Sri Lanka government defeated by private sector employees

(May 31, 2011,  Lanka PolitySri Lanka's ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee that met under the patronage of party leader President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday evening unanimously decided to hold the proposed private sector pension scheme temporarily.

The decision drew a close resemblance with the socialist dictatorships of the former Eastern Block in which the central Committee of the Communist Party was the actual governing council of Sri Lanka.

The Central Committee decided to reconsider the bill and to hold it until a new bill that they say suits the needs of the private sector employees is drafted.

SLFP central committee granted powers to the the parliamentary group of the ruling coalition to proceed with the matter. They say they will call for consultation from the trade unions and public, a step that could have taken prior to draft the bill. This proves that democracy  is not default in this system and it is something that should be won through struggles.

Meanwhile, the government also decided to close the Free Trade Zone in Katunayaka today to establish 'industrial' peace. Peace for them is just industrial peace. It is the peace that is needed by the investors to run their production process.

The employees of the Free Trade Zone held protests continuously and yesterday clashed with police injuring 15 police personnel including a Deputy Inspector General. Police used tear gas to disperse them. Mainstream media did not report that 230 employees of the Free Trade Zone in Katunayakewho were injured by the police attack and they been admitted Negombo Hospital, as reported by Lanka Truth website.

Sri Lanka government early yesterday said they had decided to exempt the employees working in the Free Trade Zones and the affiliated industry from the proposed Private Sector Pension Scheme, reported the official website of the Government Information Department.

The proposed private sector pension scheme (PSPS) would be optional and employees could obtain their contributions with interest if they leave a job before mandatory 120 months to be eligible for the pension benefits, the government said. It was a clear change from the original plan to give such employees only 60% of what they saved without interest when they reached the age of 60 years.

The workers of the Katunayaka Free Trade Zone of Sri Lanka launched a wave of protests against the proposed private sector pension scheme.

Sources from the Free Trade Zone said that the Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) led Inter Company Employees' Union was behind the protests.

The government's decision to take a step back is a real victory to the workers and also to the JVP too.

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