On the Boil

July 26, 2006 (LBO) – Fears of another fuel shortage were sparked off on Wednesday as the government refused to give in to trade union demands and said it would seek a court order restraining unions. “We are trying to get a court order tomorrow (Thursday) for the newly appointed Chairman Asantha de Mel to take up duties and a letter is being prepared by the President’s House to that effect to submit to courts,” A H M Fowzie, Petroleum Minister told journalists.

“If unions go on strike with a court order, it would be contempt of court. So they cannot do that.”

Trade unions at Sri Lanka’s petroleum storage and distribution facility struck work for two days, stopping fuel supplies to filling stations around the island, affecting motorists and public transport.

Unions were demanding de Mel’s removal as chairman to the Common Petroleum Storage Terminal Ltd. (CPSTL); a move they saw would pave the way for privatisation of state assets.

On Tuesday, President Mahinda Rajapakse’s trade union advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra bought the government two weeks with a written assurance to look into union demands.

Fowzie however claims the assurance, given after two rounds of heated