Strikes as galkatas

The JVP has earned notoriety for using human shields and holding people to ransom just like its northern counterpart now resting in peace. In the late 1980s, JVP killer squads forced innocent people to take part in violent protest marches at gunpoint and provoked the police and the armed forces to open fire on them so as to trigger a backlash against the then UNP government. Thousands of people perished as a result at the hands of the police, the armed forces and vigilantes but the JVP could not achieve its goal. Workers were also forced by JVP terrorists to walk picket lines. Not even school children were spared. They were taken in processions against the 13th Amendment and the JVP hooligans coined slogans such as Palamuwa Maubima, devanuwa Pasela (Motherland first, school second), Palamuwa Maubima, devanuwa wedabima (Motherland first, workplace second) and Palamua Maubima, devanuwa upadiya (Motherland first, Degree second) to market their brand of patriotism.

The JVP is still using these tactics very effectively in universities, which remain more closed than open as a result. It sought to disrupt the school system as well by interfering with the evaluation of GCE (A/L) answer scripts.

Having faced humiliating defeats at successive elections, the JVP is now trying to settle its political scores with the UPFA government at the expense of the working class and the general public. It is not using galkatas and T-katas for that purpose unlike in the past. Instead it is using strikes and go-slows. It has taken upon itself the task of obtaining salary increments for certain categories of privileged workers in vital sectors, though it refused to join forces with the working class in 1980, when State employees struck work demanding as little as Rs. 10 extra per day only to have over 60,000 of them thrown out of jobs.

The JVP is planning to resort to trade union action from Nov. 11 and use fuel, electricity and water as weapons to plunge the country into chaos. Its recent CPC go-slow was a trial balloon and the government's failure to counter it successfully emboldened the JVP-led trade union Mafia to try to paralyse other vital sectors.

The JVP's battle plan is clear. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is going to announce a national election at the SLFP Convention on Nov. 15 and Rathu Sahodarayas are all out to eclipse the event by crippling essential services.

CEB, Water Board, Port, bank and CPC workers are a pampered lot. They are demanding pay hikes to feather their nests, while other State employees are making ends meet without resorting to strikes. However, whether privileged or not workers should be given what they are entitled to and promised. So, their right to demand their dues must be recognised and action taken to ensure that justice is done. But, the anarcho-radical elements masquerading as trade unionists must not be allowed to hijack workers' grievances to unleash havoc on the country.

The government has undertaken to pay salary increments early next year and, we believe, the aforesaid categories of workers are not going to starve for two months. The JVP asks how the government could offer to settle arrears next year as there is no guarantee of its re-election. If the JVP is confident, as it claims, of dislodging the present regime by defeating President Rajapaksa and electing a new government, then why should it be in a mighty hurry to win pay hikes at this juncture? All that it should do is to tell its unnamed yet much talked about 'Common Candidate' that he, upon election, must grant CEB, CPC, Port and Water Board workers their salary increases as a national priority! Sadly, the JVP seems to have taken the discerning public for a bunch of suckers!

The government must have a contingency plan ready to ensure that essential services are not disrupted. It is duty bound to prevent the public from being held to ransom by some bankrupt political dregs desperately looking for political straws to clutch at. And, most of all, it behoves workers to desist from walking into trade union traps and helping further the anarchical interests at a time the country needs political stability more than ever to sort out her postwar problems such as resettlement and rebuilding.

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