Sri Lanka union veteran bemoans muted voice of workers and lost freedoms

Jan 30, 2008 (LBO) – A veteran Sri Lankan trade unionist says the voice of the working class is now muted and people are battling to survive as prices are rising and terrorism is spreading to all corners of the land. “This is a great misfortune to the country. If there is no voice for the working class then there is no democracy,” Bala Tampoe, general secretary of the Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial and General Workers’ Union (CMU) said.

“Only people like Wimal Weerawansa or Ravi Karunanayake can now address such issues. But there is no one to talk on behalf of the working class in Sri Lanka.”

Circular Struggle

He says today workers are fighting to survive as cost of living rises daily.

“Some parts of the society are unable to bear the increase in the cost of living in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Heavy government money printing to fill budget gaps usually causes inflation to rise. As the purchasing power of salaried workers is eroded pressure for wage increases begin and strikes usually follow.

With the salary increments the previous status quo is then restored a year or two later. But until wages are increased companies make profits from paying lower real wages to salaried workers.