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All essential services run smoothly; Satisfactory attendance in offices, schools:

Workers defy strike call

COLOMBO: All essential services ran smoothly yesterday as a majority of workers reported for duty defying calls by the JVP and the UNP for an islandwide General Strike.

The strike call by the JVP’s National Trade Union Centre and the UNP had little impact as almost all Government and private services including education, health, transport, postal services, electricity, water supply and ports functioned normally with near-normal attendance.

The strikers’ main demand was for a Rs. 5,000 salary raise for all public servants, although several other conditions such as the postponement of elections were added


Students near Ananda College, Colombo. Picture by Mahinda Withanachchi


Buses at the Pettah. Picture by Saman Sri Wedage

 later.

A Government spokesman said the workers had decided to support the Government at this juncture even amidst cost of living problems to show solidarity with the Security Forces battling terrorism.

The Government yesterday stated that if the strikers try to continue their TU action these sectors will be declared as a essential services.

Those who refrain from reporting duty will be considered as having resigned from their posts. Western Province Governor and senior Trade Unionist Alavi Mowlana described the UNP, JVP led strike as a utter failure.

“They couldn’t muster the support of the working class. The trade unions and the public have realised the futile nature of the strike.” When nearly 120,000 Government employees were sacked by the then UNP rulers for asking Rs. 300 increment the JVP kept silent, Mowlana added.

“The UNP is playing a comedy drama forgetting the sacking of the Government employees in 1980 for striking to get a nominal increment of Rs. 300 during the UNP regime. They are now appearing to win the rights of the working class based on personal political advantage.”

A normal daily routine prevailed yesterday at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) facilities throughout the country, Power and Energy Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne told the Daily News.

“The services of the CEB continued as usual throughout the country and there is no power failure reported since employees in all grades have reported for duty,” Minister Seneviratne said.

The employees have clearly understood their responsibility when the Nation has reached a vital crossroad in totally defeating terrorism, the Minister added.

Schools functioned without any obstacle yesterday an Education Ministry Spokesman told the Daily News. Accordingly most schools including 9,766 Government schools and private schools were functioning normally though there was a drop in attendance in some schools.

In addition the affiliated institutions of Education Ministry such as Department of Examinations,

Department of Education Publication, National Education Institute, Teachers Colleges and Colleges of Education were reported to be functioning smoothly.

All ports including Colombo Port were reported functioning as usual, a spokesman of the Ports Authority told the Daily News. The loading and unloading process went on normally.

Passengers transport services were conducted smoothly. The CGR followed the scheduled time table while CTB and Private owned buses ran as on other days. All office trains were reported to be operating on schedule.

The strike of the UNP, JVP led trade unions did not affect the health sector. All OPDs and wards functioned normally at hospitals islandwide but there was a decline in the number of patients.

Related Story: Thwarting Strike

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