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President and PM taking tough line over the Port workers strike

ECONOMYNEXT – The government is talking tough about the Port Authority workers whose strike has crippled the Colombo Port causing huge losses to the country.

“We will investigate whether there is a conspiracy to sabotage the Port,” Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday.

He added that “Trade Unions must first present their demands and negotiate with the government. They must take trade union action only if their demands are not met,” he told an election rally in Mapalagama in the Galle District last night Aug 1.

“They cannot strike and then ask for discussions,” he said.

Talking to attendees at another campaign rally in the Mahiyangana area President Gotabaya Rajapaksa blamed “saboteurs” for closing down the Port of Colombo.

“There is no basis for this action,” he told Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna supporters.

Port workers have been agitating for the government not to go ahead with handing over the Eastern deep water Terminal to a consortium of Indian and Japanese companies, but to keep the terminal in the hands of Sri Lanka.

The last government signed a non-binding Memorandum of Cooperation with India and Japan, a tripartite agreement that will develop the terminal.

India has put considerable diplomatic pressure on Sri Lanka for a stake in the Port. Most of the transshipment cargo carried out in Colombo comes from India. (Colombo, August 2, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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