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Anik Pituwa May Day English

Anik Pituwa May Day English

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Published by lahirunp

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Published by: lahirunp on May 16, 2011
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05/16/2011

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1
 
Protect Workers’ Savings from the IMF Trap
T.M.R. RasseedinPresident, Ceylon Federation of Labour
It is clear that the IMF is behind the proposed Employees Pension Benefits Fund announcement bythe President as Minister of Finance when presenting the 2011 Budget in Parliament. This is a sequelto the Article 4 Consultation that Sri Lanka has annually with the Executive Board of the IMF. At theconclusion of these consultations Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 10/4 1 was issued by theBoard on 19/10/2010 which stated, inter-alia, that “…further efforts will be needed to put in place adeposit insurance system , establish a regulatory framework for private sector pension …..”There is no doubt that workers would welcome a pension scheme that will be of real benefit to themin the evening of their lives. But the envisaged scheme has all the features of a captive fund to servethe purposes of the government. The pension fund is to be based primarily with workers’ monies inthe ETF, EPF with an additional contribution of 2% from employer and employees, 10% of the profitearned by the ETF, inactive EPF Accounts of those over 70 years and 2 % of the EPF balance and10% of the gratuity of workers at the time of retirement. The quantum of pension a member wouldreceive is a paltry sum and such payment will not be for life. It is a deceptive device employed by thegovernment to meet its commitment to the IMF to raise the rate of savings in the country and claimbringing about a corresponding increase in investment.Today, trade unions are called upon to function as organisations expressing the views of the workingpeople on the larger problem of economic and social life. The offensive of global capital ondeveloping countries such as Sri Lanka is aimed at increasingly linking us to the global chain of imperialist globalisation. The IMF, World Bank, and the WTO give our country little or no option todecide our own affairs. In the wake of this process the working people and the society at large faceconsiderable challenges.Labour has been made vulnerable due to increased pressure for the introduction of flexible labourmarket policies that have an adverse impact on working people and trade unions. The threat tosecured employment is rising with employers increasingly resorting to diverse forms of contractlabour under cover of outsourcing resulting in denial of worker rights and benefits. Thesuperannuation funds of workers, until now invested in government securities, are being targeted bycapitalists supported by IMF and certain government circles, to be channeled to the risky stock market, posing a serious threat to workers’ social security.
 
2The present rigid wages policy in the private sector in the context of falling real wages, inflation andrising prices has resulted in the pauperization of the working people. A recent study of the ILO hasbrought out the startling figure of nearly one million belonging to the working poor in Sri Lanka.The problem of rising prices, fundamental rights and freedom and the right to employment, law andorder, good governance and national unity are issues that concern the whole society and trade unionsbeing one of the few coherently organised and articulate groups in civil society should take centrestage in promoting and espousing the common cause.Things need to change. But the present state of our trade unions is not very encouraging. Only about15% is organised. Our organizational strength need to be fortified so that it will serve as a pole of attraction to the un-organised. We have been indulging in sectarian activities for too long dissipatingour strength in the process. The socio-economic changes that are taking place locally and the worldover in the world of work and society bring out the urgent need for unity of trade unions, of theworking people. Past attempts at trade union unity often collapsed due to partisan politicsovershadowing the need of the times.It is time we cast away our petty differences and think afresh in the larger interests of the workingpeople and society.
Kelaniya, Lumpen Nationalism and the Left
Mahinda RatnayakeKelaniya is the birthplace of Vihara Maha Devi, the national heroine who, it is said, offered herself insacrifice to save the country from the wrath of the sea that flowed inland. There is an undisputedbonding between Kelaniya and Magampura, in hoisting the Sinhala Buddhist State in Lanka. Perhapsfor that reason, President Rajapakse, who hails from Magampura, chose another from the same areaas his representative for Kelaniya.
State patronage for lumpen activities
 This son from Magampura proved himself qualified to be the President’s nominee for Kelaniya,with many infamous heroic feats. The first was his attack on the public rally that was organisedin Nugegoda on 08 January 2007 to urge for a political solution to the ethnic issue. His rowdytantrums thrown at the SL Rupavahini Corporation for not airing his lewd speech attackingMangala Samaraweera at the opening of the Matara new bridge, is public knowledge. Thereafterhis many “heroic” deeds like attacks on Sirasa TV station and its media persons, roping aSamurdhi officer to a tree as punishment, gave him a competitive advantage in getting perks,privileges and promotions.
 
3 The “patriotic” insanity that was played out at the Nugegoda Super market by lumpens and“patriots” together, was evidently approved by the President and was perhaps a forerunner inestablishing a unique “law” and “disorder” situation in Kelaniya. Meat and fish for meals inKelaniya was decided on this “law”. Home gardening became compulsory in Kelaniya under this“law”. Eatables in Kelaniya were decided on this “patriotic law”. Sale and consumption of liquoralso came under this same “law”.That aside, with this patriotism entering the fish market, their jungle law has now become aproblem. This is also no external intrusion, but one due to a breakdown of the internal order of the fish market. This breakdown of internal order has not only made extortions and theirinfighting a big issue, it has also made the ordinary consumer unsafe and very insecure. Even awell knitted group of robbers have amongst them the discipline to share the loot, ethically.The breakdown of the internal order is not due to other trivia, but because pseudo patriotism inlaw and order has no ethics to base itself. The President now pretends he is unaware of theseissues and has got his brother to intervene in the fish market affairs, with the Special Task Force.He thus wants to project himself as wholly innocent of such thuggery.Though this would look clean for the ordinary citizen, this again is another aspect of the samepseudo patriotism of this regime. A Co-ordinating Secretary of the modern Dutu Gemunu, is nowunder remand for having tried to extort five hundred thousand rupees from a Tamil businessman.He was in the company of two police personnel when arrested at the scene of extortion. Withthat, keeping this modern Dutu Gemunu who patronise all this in the cabinet, is the wonder of Sri Lanka.
The “Left” and the lumpen class
The lumpen class has become a formidable group in our societies, as a product of globalcapitalism. It is amply reflected with increased numbers of them getting elected to parliamenttoday. Beyond that, it is no secret, they have become a very influential force in winning thesupport of the Executive too.There can be no grumbling in a social segment securing representation within democraticinstitutions. It was the “Left” that provided space for the lumpen class in the past. The markeddifference then was that the “Left” was able to lead them into a proletarian life, with a goodunderstanding of politics.Thus Reggie Mendis (Reggie Aiya) an undisputed underworld leader in the Fort-Pettah area,transformed himself to be a Secretary of the Marxist Study Circle in the Trotskyite LSSP, withparty guidance. With such political discipline, the underworld leaders were able to handle theirown underworld issues with a humanely sensitive approach.What needs to be understood is the danger that accompanies the deployment of armed forces toquell conflicts, after allowing lumpen figures to play sordid roles as patriots. The lesson that

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