Remove from the order book

The Minister of Labour has already confirmed through a communication from the Ministry on the 03/06/2011, to the members of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) that the Pension Fund Bill has definitely been withdrawn. Amidst all this information, an effort is made in certain quarters to reformulate the bill to be tabled in the Parliament after consultation with the NLAC members. ‘Lankadeepa’ on 07th June 2011 announced this in its headlines as genuine information from the Ministry of Labour. At the last Parliamentary debate, certain Ministers have said very clearly that the same old bill will be taken with certain amendments.

These set of people are able to make such irresponsible statements as the strikes wave has calmed down after the death of the FTZ worker Roshen Chanaka. The immediate need of the Trade Unions and the Workers’ Movement in general, is to bury this nefarious Pension Fund Bill and force the legislature to remove it from the order paper.

The setback of the government not being able to rush through the bill in the Parliament and the anxiety of the President to announce jubilantly on the last May Day, was frustrated by the injunction order taken by the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union (CBEU) in the Supreme Court. This allowed the Trade Unions a breathing space to organize themselves for a broad-based education and campaign.

The Ruling clique and the Ministers are unable to face the defeat at the worker’s uprising. So they make very effort to reintroduce this Bill. Former Judge Mahanama Tillekeratne’s investigations are not known to anybody. Every young worker is very anxious to find out who gave the order to shoot. Whether this was the sole responsibility of the IGP or of the Defence Ministry?. The Government is unconcerned about the critically injured workers. Some of these young people seriously injured by the live bullets will become “Invalids” for the rest of their lives.

Everybody understood the ulterior motive behind this Pension Fund Bill. This is not a Private Sector Pension Scheme to sustain the workers in their old age. This is only an effort to initiate  a  Fund. It is an exercise of capital accumulation in the country.

The Government is compelled to show the IMF that it is capable to be an equity-investor to receive IMF loan. As this is the motive of the government, they will try to grab all the financial resources available in the country. The EPF together with the ETF are the most flourishing funds. The total assets of these two funds amount to Rs.1027 Billion of which Rs. 902 Billion belong to the EPF already in 2010. Now it will be close to a trillion.

Now the Government is making a desperate effort to make JVP the scapegoat of the FTZ workers’ rebellion. But the actual reality is that the unionized – members of the FTZ is a tiny minority. There was no way of inciting the workers of the 3 zones – Katunayake, Biyagama and Koggala.

It became very evident that certain influential Trade Unions including the UFL linked together with the national-level Trade Union – the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union (CBEU) and formed the Joint Trade Union Alliance. It was through this Joint Trade Unions that we started a strong Joint campaign against the Pension Fund Bill. The Free Trade Zone and General Workers’ Union was instrumental in organizing the FTZ Katunayake.The JVP union did an excellent propaganda against the bill reaching the extreme villages.

The joint work of the Trade Unions has overflowed to the marginalized sectors, to the non- unionized workers of the FTZs. It was an upsurge of an informal, unorganized sector which automatically evolved as a mass struggle. But it is still the beginning of the upsurge in the mass consciousness of the working people.

The young workers shed their blood and their prime youthful lives to defend their financial resources- EPF, ETF and the Gratuity. No government or any authority could grab their hard-earned money.

We reiterate very clearly our position:

Defeat totally without any compromise whatsoever the nefarious Pension Fund Bill, till it is totally removed immediately from the Order Book of the Parliament.  

Linus Jayathilake

United Federation of Labour

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