June 01, Colombo: Members of the Joint Trade Union Alliance comprising 26 trade unions staged a massive protest today in Colombo against the pension reforms and the Monday’s police attack on Katunayake Free Trade Zone workers who were demonstrating against the proposed pension plan.
The private sector employees marched along a busy street in Colombo, carrying banners and shouting slogans demanding the government to withdraw the proposed pension scheme.
The Joint Trade Union Alliance consisting powerful Lanka Bank Employees’ Union, Ceylon Mercantile Union and Free Trade Zone General Employees’ Union threatened to continue strikes if the government decides to go ahead with the pension reforms.
Sri Lanka police came under fire on Wednesday for using excessive force on the demonstrators in Monday’s protest at Katunayake, near Sri Lanka’s international airport.
The clashes between the police and protesters injured over 150 people including 15 police officers.
A 22-year old employee, who sustained gunshot wounds when police fired live bullets to disperse the crowd, has succumbed to his injuries, the police spokesman SP Prishantha Jayakody said.
Taking responsibility for the police action, Sri Lanka police chief IGP Mahinda Balasuriya voluntarily stepped down from his post and authorities arrested two senior police officers for the debacle.
The private sector workers say the government’s scheme is not beneficial to them and does not provide any protection to the employees, as they would be provided only 60% of the monies in their account in the event of a disability or death.
The government announced Tuesday that it has temporarily suspended the implementation of the proposed private sector pension scheme.
The Central Committee of the ruling party has decided to reconsider the bill and to hold it until a new bill that suits the needs of the private sector employees is drafted.