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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Over 2,000 trade unions in Sri Lanka to launch massive hartal on May 06

Protestors at Galle Face demanding that President Rajapaksa step down

ECONOMYNEXT – Over 2,000 trade unions in Sri Lanka have called a 24-hour, island-wide hartal – in what organisers say will be the country’s biggest general strike in decades – on Friday (06) in solidarity with protestors who are demanding the resignation of the government.

Transport, banking, health, power, education and other sectors will withdraw from services for a period of 24 hours on Friday as part of the campaign, organisers said. Hartal is  an Indian word for a total shutdown of workplaces.

Convenor of the union alliance Ravi Kumudesh told reporters on Thursday (05) that more than 2,000 unions and civil bodies have agreed to go on the one-day strike.

The railway union alliance, Teachers and principals union as well as the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union confirmed to EconomyNext their participation in the hartal.

The unions previously went on a one-day strike on April 29, in support of ongoing protests against the current government with the participation of more than 1,000 unions bringing the country to a virtual standstill.

“We have decided to support the hartal tomorrow by going on a one day strike. We have more than 18 state and private banks and also unions of the central bank with us. They have confirmed their participation and as a result all banks and their branches will be closed tomorrow,” a spokesperson for the Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union said.

The Nurses Association, the Public Health Officers Union, fishing unions and the postal union have also announced their support for the May 06 hartal.

A spokesman for the health sector unions said, other than health officers, all unions will be on strike from 7am Friday for 24 hours. The spokesman asked the general public not to come to health institutes other than for emergencies.

All health sector unions will protest in front of the Ministry of Health from 9am Friday, the spokesman said.

Several civil organisations and unions affiliated with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) said they will not support the hartal and will continue operations without putting further burden on the general public.

The SLPP Progressive Employees’ Association of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the Train Engine Drivers’ Association told reporters that no employees representing their unions will take part in the strike.

However, the hartal organisers warned that from May 11 onwards the alliance will go on a continuous strike until the government and the president steps down from their positions.

Protests have erupted islandwide against the government and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over what has become Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence. A daily protest organised and attended by people with no political party affiliation is being held in front of the presidential secretariat in Colombo for the 27th day running. (Colombo/May05/2022)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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