Trade unions want the new chairman of the government’s oil storage and distribution facility removed, saying the appointment was an unnecessary cost and a step to privatisation.
The government on Thursday sought a court order to allow the new chairman Asantha de Mel to assume duties and restrain union action, but the case was put off for August 2.
“We are going by the written assurance given to us by the President’s trade union advisor Bharatha Lakshman that are demands will be addressed in two weeks,” Chethiya Ekanayake, President of the Ceylon Petroleum Joint Trade Union Alliance, told journalists on Thursday.
“We have not planned any trade union action.” Unions at the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd. (CPSTL) struck work for two days, stopping fuel supplies to filling stations around the island, crippling public transport and affecting motorists.
Panic buying depleted stocks faster until the strike was called off on Tuesday with the President’s trade union advisor, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra buying two weeks to settle union demands.
An irate minister of petroleum A H M Fowzie however, took the issue to courts on the basis that neither the President nor he approved Premachandra’s move.
Unions also won a victory Thursday when the Cabinet said it would hand back a one third stake in CPSTL to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, making it 75 percent state owned.
“CPSTL is now majority owned by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, and to be effectively run, it needs to have the same chairman,” D J Ariyawansa, Treasurer of the Joint Trade Union Alliance, said.
The unions said fuel supplies to filling stations had already been resumed and they expected a favourable solution in two weeks.