The TNA called on workers to exercise their right to trade union action in a very responsible and constructive manner.

 

TNA MP MA Sumanthiran, participating in a debate in parliament on the government’s decision to declare petroleum sector an essential service under the provisions of the Public Security Ordinance, said that resorting to strike action at the drop of a hat devalued the most potent weapon at the disposal of the working class.

 

The MP said those who controlled the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) often held the country to ransom by going on strike for flimsy reasons.

 

Sumanthiran observed that medical services were essential services though not proclaimed as such by the government. “This group of professionals, who ought to know better and have taken a sacred oath, behave in a worse manner than even criminals at times. They do it to achieve their own selfish objectives. Not all the medical professionals, but certainly those who have taken control of the GMOA often behave in a very irresponsible manner, putting patients lives in danger. These professionals have obtained free education at tax payers’ expense. I personally know people who have died without medical attention in the last couple of months whenever GMOA went on strike for some flimsy reason or the other.”

 

While congratulating the President on declaring the supply and distribution of fuel as an essential public service, Sumanthiran urged the government to take stern action to enforce the proclamation and carry on all essential public services uninterruptedly.

 

“For long years we have supported the right of trade unions to resort to legitimate trade union action. However, now people question whether the pendulum has swung the other way a little too much. Trade union action has many facets to it. Strike is the ultimate weapon, not the first thing that you do. If the workers abuse it, they are putting their own rights at risk. Today, TUs don’t know that they must give notice on TU action.”

 

“I believe I am expressing the general sense of disillusionment of the people of this country today when they see various organisations calling themselves ‘trade unions’ resorting to what they term ‘trade union action’. In reality, those are political actions to cripple the functioning of the country.”

 

Sumanthiran said that the strike is not appropriate even as the last resort in today’s context given the host of issues the country was grappling with.

 

“Given the irresponsible way various organisations and TUs act, we believe the government is left with no alternative but to use the law which provides for proclamation of essential services.”

 

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