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Monday, April 22, 2024

Remove military from FTZ – trade unions

A worker was killed and hundreds more sustained injuries after police attacked the protest
Powerful trade unions in Sri Lanka are calling for the immediate removal of military from the Katunayaka Free Trade Zone (FTZ).

Anton Marcus of the Joint Trade Union Alliance (JTUA) also urged the government to withdraw plans to establish a High Security Zone (HSZ) in the FTZ.

He told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya that security forces were deployed in FTZ after the police attack on the protesting workers on 30 May.

A young worker, Roshain Chanaka later succumbed to injuries received from live rounds.

“The government should investigate who ordered this attack, who carried it out and punish the culprits,” Anton Marcus said.

No victimisation

Workers were protesting against the proposed private sector pension bill by the government.

The introduction of the bill was postponed due to protests. However, the government says the bill will be re-introduced with amendments.

The unions are also seeking compensation of five million Sri Lankan Rupees (USD 46,000) for Roshain Chanaka as well as compensation for injured workers.

“Those who were injured should be paid until they come back to work. And their jobs should be secure until they come back after hospital treatment,” said the union leader.

Most importantly, no worker should be victimised, he added.

Anton Marcus warned that authorities seem employing the military in a move to curb workers rights including right to protest and right to join a union using the military.

“This should immediately stop,” he said.

Meanwhile, former military chief Sarath Fonseka speaking to journalists on Monday opposed military deployment.

Sarath Fonseka (file photo)
‘I urge the army not to turn the guns used against terrorists towards civilians’

“In civilised countries one would not replace the police with the army to control protests,” Mr Fonseka said.

The government that attempted to “steal” private sector workers funds, Mr Fonseka said, is currently planning to “steal” funds sent by Sri Lankans abroad.

“I urge the army not to turn the guns used against terrorists towards civilians.”

General Fonseka made these comments on his way back to prison from a hearing in courts.

He is accused of spreading public disaffection by quoting allegations that the defence secretary ordered surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders to be shot dead.
BBC Sinhala


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