“I am aware that several unresolved issues exist in the government, semi-government sectors, corporations and boards. They have now reached a chaotic situation. Anomalies in salaries and promotions and the disorder in the recruitment process are some of the pressing issues. The Government is committed to resolve these problems for the benefit of workers. People elected the present Government with high expectations. Help the Government to fulfill the pledges made to the public”, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated addressing the representatives of Trade Unions.
Recalling that the former President and the incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is a leader who fought for and won the rights of the workers President said that his Government too follows the same policy and always ready to solve issues through dialogue.
President Rajapaksa made these remarks addressing representatives of the trade unions affiliated to Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna at the chamber of the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23).
Representatives of Sri Lanka Podujana Education Services Association, Conference of the Progressive State Workers, Association of Progressive Workers in Commercial Industries and Services, Association of Provincial Progressive Workers, Sri Lanka Podujana Transport Workers Society, Sri Lanka Podujana Estate Workers Society and All Island Samurdhi Officers Association were present at the discussion.
Recognizing the contribution and sacrifices made by the trade unions affiliated to Podujana Peramuna to bring the current Government to power President pointed out that the public service should be transformed into a strong, efficient and effective one in order to meet the aspirations of the people.
The Government is always ready to listen to the trade unions and work in unison with them said the President adding that he intends to meet and discuss with the trade unions once in every 03 months as the COVID pandemic is now easing. President emphatically told the TU representatives to assist to make State entities of all forms efficient and profitable organizations by eliminating dependence on the Treasury for funding.
“We took over the administration of the country knowing very well the challenges ahead. The debt burden on the country was enormous. The economy was in very bad shape. We had the vision to overcome these obstacles. Despite the roadblocks to the progress due to the eruption of COVID – 19 pandemic, we were able to achieve remarkable successes. The country’s export earnings have returned to pre-COVID period. Due to the policy adopted by the Government in the face of the pandemic, agriculture developed but did not collapse. Everything that can be grown in this country is being cultivated. Now we can see the positive effects of such actions’, the President said explaining the path of the government.
However, the tourism industry, which was a major source of income in Sri Lanka, has almost completely collapsed. It may take some time for the tourism industry to recover as most of the countries where tourists come from still remain closed. Many other income avenues are also blocked. Nevertheless, the government was able to provide employment to 60,000 graduates waiting in the job queue. A programme was launched to employ 100,000 people selected from the poorest families. By now, 35,000 have been recruited under it. Another 35,000 will be recruited in the next phase.
‘Long-term steps have been taken to build a people-centric national economy with a strong industrial network’, President Rajapaksa said adding that some people are distorting this reality and spreading misconceptions on social media.
Responding to a request made by trade union representatives, President Rajapaksa said that he had instructed the heads of state institutions to work in harmony with the trade unions and if there is any shortcomings in this regard that would also be rectified in the future.
Minister Gamini Lokuge, Chairman of the Progressive Trade Union Federation, said that the government had succeeded in building peace in state institutions and services and suggested to the President that a “Worker Director” be appointed to each corporation.
When a trade union representative pointed out that there are individuals in local government bodies who have not yet received permanent appointments despite completing of 180 days of service, the National Organizer of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Basil Rajapaksa said that the jobs of such employees will be secured without burdening the local government bodies.
State Ministers Dilum Amunugama, Kanchana Wijesekara, Janaka Wakkumbura, Sagara Kariyawasam, Jagath Kumara, Jayantha Ketagoda and others were present at the meeting.