Breakthrough

July 25, 2006 (LBO) – The Sri Lankan government bought two weeks grace period from petroleum sector trade unions late Tuesday, with fuel stocks expected to hit Colombo city by midnight.

Unions struck work demanding Asantha de Mel, the head of a key petroleum facility is removed, as they feared his appointment was the first step towards privatising petroleum assets.

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s trade union advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra stepped in to resolve the crisis, after petroleum minister A H M Fowzie walked out of heated talks with trade unions earlier in the day.

Mr. Premachandra promised us in writing that president Rajapakse will look into our grievances within two weeks time. With that assurance we are asking our members to return to work, A L Ananda, Chairman of the CPC Joint Trade Union Front said.

Union demands agreed to include asking de Mel to stay away from his office and removing his executive powers, Ananda said.

On Monday De Mel took over as chairman of the Common Petroleum Storage Terminal (CPSTL), which is a joint venture between state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp, Lanka IOC and the government treasury.

Fuel sheds usually ho