May 31, 2011/ by Zacki Jabbar
While one Katunayake Export Processing Zone worker remained critical and around 25 were being treated for injuries at the Negombo hospital, as a result of Monday’s clashes with the police, the main opposition, UNP, yesterday accused the government of having created a violent situation by trying to force an unfair pension scheme on the private sector, without its consent.
UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake addressing a news conference in Colombo, said that the disturbance, which also left 15 police officers injured, was due to the high handed actions of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, which was trying to bulldoze legislation that was detrimental to the working class.
The government acting on the dictates of the discredited IMF has introduced a Private Sector Pension Scheme Bill aimed at robbing employees of their lifetime savings in the EPF and ETF. This was the root cause of the clashes which had been aggravated by armed police and army personnel entering some factories and assaulting the workers including some pregnant women, he said.
Attanayake dismissed Monday night’s announcement, that the PSPS has been suspended, as another trick by the Rajapaksa regime since it was a decision taken by the SLFP Central Committee and not the Cabinet of ministers.
The Cabinet, he said, had approved the PSPS Bill and the logical thing would be for it to reverse its own decision and not for one political party in the UPFA.
“The workers have been hoodwinked time and again with a series of false promises. The election pledge of a Rs. 2,500 salary increase for public servants is yet to materialize,” Attanayake said adding that the government was now trying to meddle with the retirement benefits of the private sector as well.
He said that the UNP, along with other opposition political parties and trade unions would continue to agitate unless the PSPS Bill was withdrawn or amended by incorporating the views of the employees and employers.