CEBEU Threatens Islandwide Blackout
By Faadhila Thassim
Following a series of trade union action, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) yesterday (1) warned that they would be compelled to launch a strike, which would result in an islandwide blackout similar to the one that took place in 1996, if their demands, including terminating the Yugadanavi Power Plant deal are not met.
CEBEU Chairman, Saumya Kumarawadu, said the CEB management, led by the Chairman and General Manager, have changed the CEB senior management staff who were serving in crucial positions and are critical about signing associated agreements involving LNG supply and power supply such as power purchase agreements and fuel supply agreements in the future.
He added that this, as an attempt to pave the way to sign such associated contracts and deals for the Yugadanavi Power Plant deal with the American Company, New Fortress Energy. “We doubt as to whether such a move by the CEB Chairman is aimed at inconveniencing the Government, the President, and the public, by compelling CEBEU to resort to strict trade union action,” he added.
He said the CEB Chairman sent two Additional General Managers on compulsory leave without a valid reason, quoting a non-existent clause in the CEB disciplinary manual, adding that thereby over 300 engineers gathered at the CEB Headquarters yesterday (1) to hold discussions with the Chairman of the CEB, while stating however that he was not available, and thereby discussions were held with the General Manager.
He added that discussions at such level have continuously proven to be futile. The CEBEU also escalated their ongoing level one work-to-rule campaign that was launched on 25 November to a level two campaign yesterday (1), by which CEB engineers will not attend emergencies and breakdowns following normal work hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Further commenting on the complaint lodged by the Chairman of the CEB to investigate any sabotage behind the power outages reported in certain areas, Kumarawadu assured that such incidents were not intentional, adding that an investigation will however be conducted into the incidents as per the usual practice.