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Strike ends, but unions vow to intensify action to win their demands

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Hundreds of passengers waiting for trains at the Fort Railway Station in Colombo yesterday as a strike was in progress. Pic by Nishan S Priyantha

Many trade unions staged a one-day general strike yesterday, demanding that taxes, tariffs and interest rates be reduced. The organisers of the strike said they would intensify their trade union action unless the government heeded their demands.

More than 40 trade unions, in several sectors, joined the strike, organised by the trade unions of professionals. Many other state and semi-state trade unions also supported the strike.

The Trade Unions Collective, which organised yesterday’s strike, said it had been compelled to resort to strike action as there was no favourable response from the government to its demands.

Due to the strike, services such as health, posts, and railways were affected. Workers in other sectors ,including education, port, power, water supply, petroleum, road development, and banking services, also joined the strike.

Private bus operators and several trade unions announced that they would not join the strike.

Members of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) joined the nationwide strike that started from 8 am yesterday but the Government Medical Officers’ Forum said its members would not join the strike.

Nearly 40,000 nurses also participated in yesterday’s strike.

The Joint Force of Paramedic Professionals said that the strike would become a continuous struggle if the police and the army were deployed crush the strike.

General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Service Association Mahinda Jayasinghe said that teachers and principals unions had struck work yesterday.

The non-academic staff of the universities are on strike today in support of the ongoing strike of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association.

General Secretary of the Port Union Progressive Employees’ Union Shyamal Sumanaratne said that all trade unions of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority had struck work yesterday.

All trade unions of the Ceylon Electricity Board reported sick yesterday. Only power plants and essential services continued to operate as normal, General Secretary of the Ceylon Electricity Workers’ Union Ranjan Jayalal said.

President of the Sri Lanka Air Traffic Controllers Association Thisara Amarananda said that air traffic controllers carried out a work-to-rule protest from 12.00 noon to 02.00 pm in support of the strike.

The Professionals Trade Union Collective announced that they would call off their strike action at 8 am today (16).

The banking sector saw the Ceylon Bank Employee Union (CBEU) and the Central Bank’s Trade Union Alliance are on strike. However, the President’s Media Division said several hundred branches of the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank were operational.



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Landslide Early Warnings issued to Kandy, Kegalle and Nuwara Eliya Districts

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The National Building Research Organisation  (NBRO) has issued landslide early warnings to Kandy, Kegalle and Nuwara Eliya Districts.

Accordingly level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions of Pasbage Korale in the Kandy District, Yatiyanthota and Deraniyagala in the Kegalle District and Ambagamuwa in the Nuwara Eliya District.

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Expedite Action Plan for Reconciliation – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe convened a discussion at the Presidential Secretariat on Thursday afternoon (08) to address the Action Plan for Reconciliation and  instructed the relevant departments to expedite the drafting of legislation necessary for the plan’s implementation.

The progress of initiatives within five key areas -legislation, institutional activities, land issues, prisoner release, and power decentralization, was also reviewed.

The discussion encompassed several important topics including the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the establishment of a National Land Council and the formulation of a National Land Policy.

Additionally, the President emphasized the need for enhanced operations of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), including digitization efforts and the issuance of Certificates of Absence for individuals who had previously disappeared without trace.

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National Trade Facilitation Committee Secretariat to be established

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The NTFC review meeting in progress

In an effort to accelerate trade facilitation commitments and bolster the business landscape in Sri Lanka, a high-level review of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) was conducted at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday (7).

The review focused on assessing the progress of trade facilitation commitments and scrutinizing the performance of the NTFC Secretariat. The private sector also voiced their views on expediting actions to ensure the completion of measures ahead of the projected timeline of 2025-2030.

In order to streamline compliance and optimize performance, several directives were issued during the meeting. Firstly, it was decided to establish the NTFC Secretariat under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. Secondly, immediate measures to be taken to address the staffing requirements of the Secretariat and lastly, the budget allocated for the NTFC Secretariat in 2023, currently under the Department of Customs, was to be transferred to the Ministry of Finance to prioritize pending actions such as the development of the NTFC website and progress reporting system.

During the meeting, deliberations took place concerning the proposed National Single Window, a system aimed at simplifying and expediting trade processes. The participants agreed to expedite the submission of the proposal in a sequential manner to ensure its swift implementation.

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