Workers claim troops disrupted TU action: Army denies allegation

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Inter Company Employees Union (ICEU) yesterday criticised the use of the army by the Swiss owners of Holcim Company to control the protest initiated by its Sri Lankan workers demanding that 500 contract workers employed by it for the past 20 years be confirmed in service.

Production had come to a standstill since May 19 when workers launched an agitation, the union said.

ICEU claimed that the army’s intervention to scuttle the trade union action would tarnish the image of the army as well as that of the country overseas.

The company’s position was that it couldn’t confirm those workers in service as they were a multinational company.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Army Media Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya denied the ICEU’s allegations. He said the army had only requested cement for the ongoing construction at the new security forces headquarters at Akuregoda, Palawatte.

"Sri Lanka Army thanked the Holcim Lanka Cement workers for providing them two bowsers of cement though they had asked for five as there was a requirement of five bowsers at present," Brigadier Wanigasooriya said.

"There are 6,000 workers currently working at the Akuragoda Army Headquarters and the trade union action would affect the jobs of 6,000 workers if they did not issue the required amount of cement while it would also affect the army as we have already taken steps to shift the headquarters to Akuragoda immediately."

He vehemently rejected the allegations and said army would not get involved in disrupting trade union action.

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