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Wednesday February 1st, 2023

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 shares edge up at close

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s shares edged up on Wednesday pushed as investors bought in to beaten down shares following the previous session’s drop, market analyst said.“

At this price level what we are seeing is a lot of confidence from the investors to collect when the prices drop. So, the market is not falling sharply,” a market analyst said.

Market had also seen buying in Expolanka shares on speculation that the parent company of SG Holdings was buying back into the shares.

All Share Price Index (ASPI) edged up by 0.96 percent or 84.96 points to 8,950.01.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 gained 1.27 percent or 35.02 points to 2,799.53.

Banking and Insurance counters had seen interest on the back of positive sentiments from the IMF.

The central bank has said it could cut interest rates in future when the the country sees fall in inflation, which has already started decelerating.

The market saw a turnover of 1.5 billion rupees today,lower than the month’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees and nearly half of 2022 average turnover of 2.9 billion rupees.

The bourse saw a flow of net foreign inflow of 45 million rupees extending the net offshore buying to 1.9 billion so far this year.

Top gainers of the day were Commercial Bank, Expolanka, and Ceylinco Insurance. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)






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Sri Lanka bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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