Islandwide token strike on 8 Feb against ‘unfair’ taxation

February 07, 2023

The Professionals' Trade Unions Alliance has declared a trade union action for 8 February to protest against the government’s ‘unfair’ tax hike. Holding a press conference yesterday, a collective of professionals representing various fields including health, banking and education said they will launch an islandwide token strike on the day.

The Secretary of the Government Medical Association (GMOA), Dr Haritha Aluthge said doctors attached to the GMOA will refrain from engaging in private channelling practice and regular services other than emergency treatments at hospitals on the day.

Anupa Nandula, of the Ceylon Bank Employees Union, said the unions and professional associations are being forced to take action as the government has continued to feign deafness to their calls. “Therefore we will have to take action to make them hear. All private, state and foreign banks will take part in the strike,” he said. The Federation of University Teachers' Associations will also participate in the strike action along with several other professional bodies.

Meanwhile, the trade unions of the Sri Lanka Water Board, Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Sri Lanka Port Authority will also launch a strike on the day. President of the Ports Sri Lanka Freedom Workers Union, Prasanna Kalutarage said the unions would shut down the entire country if the government does not go back on its new tax regime. “The government will have to accept the responsibility for this,” he said.

The Ceylon Electricity Board’s (CEB) United Trade Union Alliance’s Ranjan Jayalal said the workers will carry out breakdown services and management of power stations for only one hour on the day. Jayalal said the unions will go for more stringent strike action if the government will not reverse its arbitrary tax policies. “We will go for a wider general strike with the participation of the entire citizenry,” he said.

The government and Semi-Government Trade Union Collective have also warned the government it would initiate a massive protest campaign and strikes following 20 February if their demands on taxation are not met.