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Unions Slam Sri Lankan Decrees

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5 August, 2005ICEM News release No. 50/2000

Sri Lanka's emergency regulations have been severely condemned by world industrial trade union leaders currently meeting in Brussels.

Promulgated on 3 May, the regulations suppress "fundamental democratic rights and basic trade union rights," said the Executive Committee of the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).

The ICEM particularly deplores the "total suppression" of Sri Lankan workers' "rights to strike, to picket and to march in public procession" in any sector that the country's President declares to be an "essential service". The wide range of sectors already hit by the decrees includes fuel distribution, electricity supply, commodity exports and "the sale, supply or distribution of any articles of food or medicine or any other article required by a member of the public," the unions point out.

Calling on the Sri Lankan government to withdraw the regulations immediately, the ICEM pledged to mobilise "full solidarity action" by its unions worldwide and to lodge a complaint against Sri Lanka with the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO). The emergency regulations breach the ILO's core standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining.