Local economy expected to be hit hard by strike

by Hiran H. Senewiratne

Trade unions have requested the government to look in a more balance manner at the 2016 budget. Since discussions between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and trade union leaders ended without an agreement, a strike was to be launched at midnight on Monday. It would feature trade unions of the government sector, semi-government and private sectors and was expected to affect the country’s economy.

Free Trade Zone and General Services Employees Union Joint Secretary Anton Marcus told The Island Financial Review that the government has made things worse in the private sector through the 2016 budget.

He said that the 2016 budget is harmful for the country because the two pension funds, namely EPF and ETF, are to be merged and to be managed by some other party instead of the government. "This is a dangerous move, he said.

Marcus said the 2016 budget has introduced several proposals, like increasing the employees’ 180 day probation period to one year, eight hour working day to be increased to 10 hours without overtime payments, for the two additional hours and several other proposals.

"If the government fails to listen to our demands, the private sector employees will start strike action on the 18th of December, he said.

"This budget is not a private sector friendly budget at all, which needs to be amended soon. If not, all private sector employees will strike against the government, Marcus said.

Secretary, National Trade Union Federation Mahinda Jayasinghe said that they will be supporting today’s strike directly.

As a result of the strike, the services in many sectors will be at a standstill, the convener of the Teacher-Principal Union Joseph Stalin said.

He urged the Examinations Commissioner to take the matter into consideration and postpone the answering of the relevant GCE OL question papers scheduled for today.

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