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Sri Lankan unions demand constitutional reforms

21 July, 2022Workers in Sri Lanka are struggling to procure essential commodities and export production is down. IndustriALL affiliates in the country are demanding constitutional reforms for political stability and democracy.

Workers in Sri Lanka have been struggling to find food, fuel, and essential items necessary for survival since the beginning of the year. The shortages have been exacerbated by the Ukrainian war. According to reports, around 13 people have died waiting for fuel in queues. Shortages have disrupted all kinds of services including public transportation, making it difficult for workers to report to work on time.

Power cuts and shortage of fuel have also led to a considerable decline in export production. Medium-scale production firms have failed to complete their orders. Global brands that place orders in the country have been showing reluctance towards placing new orders.

Despite all these difficulties, the Sri Lankan people have shown enormous courage in demonstrating against the repressive and corrupt government. They have faced teargas shells and police violence in these months.

Sri Lankan affiliates are demanding the abolishment of the executive presidency in the country. Other demands include that the police department is made an independent civil department and is brought under the Ministry of Home Affairs, that changes are made to the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law, that fuel, gas, and other essential commodities are provided at concessionary rates for workers, that the agreement made with the International Monetary Fund is made public before an official endorsement, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act is repealed.

After the previous President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned and fled the country, Ranil Wikramasinghe was elected President in the election on 20 July. The formation of an interim government is still pending.

Anton Marcus, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, says:

“The establishment of a stable democratic government is crucial to attract investors and maintain the production process, without which the country will continue to be in the throes.”

Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary, says:

“We support the demands of our Sri Lankan affiliates for constitutional reforms and extend the solidarity of our worldwide membership. We stand with the Sri Lankan workers in this difficult time.”