CEB TUs call off strike

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Following a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Ceylon Electricity Board trade unions decided to call off their scheduled strike yesterday (9). Hours after their announcement, many power outages were reported in various parts of the island from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. yesterday.

Several unions, including the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU), decided to strike in protest of amendments to the Electricity Act.

Due to the strike, trade unions had warned of an islandwide power outage by 8:00 a.m. yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera, however, said in Parliament that a strike would be unacceptable given the country’s present situation. The CEB Technical Engineers’ Association has stated that it will not participate in the strike. Its Chairman, A. Nishantha, also said a strike was unacceptable at this juncture.

Meanwhile, according to CEB internal sources, there were hours-long power cuts in rural areas.

Further, CEBEU strongly condemned the recent conduct of Minister Wijesekera.

“We have noted with concern that the minister is spearheading a mudslinging campaign to divert the present public anger on politicians toward CEB Engineers, in an organised manner. We condemn the part he played in publishing fabricated salary statistics of CEB Engineers and trying to portray the ongoing TU action as one that is fought for a salary increase. It is clear that all his actions are done to instigate the public and divert their well-founded anger which we too empathise with and feel, as Sri Lankans,” he said.

Speaking further, he also said they strongly condemn such moves by the minister and urge him to learn to listen to professional views before forming his own opinions on highly technical matters and blatantly misleading the public in the process.

“The real message behind the TU action is much broader and more important than what Minister Wijesekera portrayed it to be. We kindly request the public to understand that competitive tendering is an essential part of good governance and is by no means a hindrance to develop renewable energy. When the whole world is competing, we question the rationale of moving back in time to renewable tariffs decided by committees, an avenue leading to corruption. We apologise to the public for any inconvenience and appeal to them to understand that this fight is to prevent people from corrupting the system to receive undue advantages at a later point,” they said.

By Thameenah Razeek