Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022

Sri Lanka Crisis: Trade Unions Strike Demanding President Gotabaya's Resignation Cripple The Country

Sri Lanka Crisis: Trade Unions Strike Demanding President Gotabaya's Resignation Cripple The Country

The protesters are demanding the resignation of the government for failure in tackling the country's worst financial crisis.

Sri Lanka Economic Crisis AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

A large number of trade union across health, postal, port and other government services went on a nationwide strike on Friday in Sri Lanka to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his governnment, crippling the country as businesses remained shut and and roads turned empty in places that would otherwise be crowded.  

Protests are being staged against the government's failure to tackle the country's worst financial crisis caused by an acute shortage of foreign exchange, plunging people in unprecedented harships. The country is short of vehicular fuel, cooking gas, medicines, and thermal power fuel. Prices of all goods, including essential edibles, have skyrocketed.  

Ravi Kumudesh of the Joint Trade Union Action group said, “Over 2,000 trade unions are joining us. Still, we will provide urgent and emergency services. Today’s one day action is to tell the president that he should step down along with the government. If our pleas are not heeded we will go into continuous strike action from May 11 until the government resigned."

However, several pro-ruling party trade unions did not join the Friday's strike.

Mahinda Jayasinghe of the teachers' trade union said school principals and teachers won’t attend school on Friday.

The privately-owned bus operators said they would anyway find it difficult to run services due to long queues prevailing at fuel stations for diesel.

“No diesel to run buses”, Gamunu Wijeratne of the private bus owners’ association said.

The state transport Chair, Kingsley Ranawaka said they would provide extra buses on Friday to maintain transport.

The students who staged a protest walk to parliament on Thursday occupied the road at the main entrance of parliament.

The police fired tear gas at them last night but they continued with their sit-in even in heavy rains. They have set up the third protest village "Horu go home gama" or "crooks go home village" at the Parliament main entrance.

Since April 9, the protesters have been staying near the presidential secretariat in the "Gota go home gama" or "Gotabaya Go home village" and since April 26 the "Mynah go home village" or "Mahinda Go Home Village".

The Inter-University Students’ Federation activists who occupy the parliamentary entrance say they would continue until the whole government resigned.

Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines and electricity supply. 

Despite mounting pressure, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have refused to quit, taking responsibility for the economic crisis. On Thursday, they won a key election in Parliament when their candidate convincingly won the race for the post of Deputy Speaker.

(With PTI inputs)