Published by the Overseas Committee regarding the International that is fourth)

Kahatagaha miners in Sri Lanka must fight for socialist policies

By Naveen Dewage
7 February 2020

Final thirty days, 130 employees during the state-owned Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Limited (KGLL), hit for 3 days to need better pay and dealing conditions. They reluctantly consented to phone from the attack after a discussion aided by the industry ministry, labour division officials and business administration during the Kurunegala Labour workplace. State officials and also the company promised to deal with employees’ demands within per month.

The three-day walkout and hunger protest in the mine, that was held in defiance of this mine unions’ leadership, had been the initial commercial action this present year since President Gotabhaya Rajapakse stumbled on energy. It absolutely was a definite indicator associated with nature associated with the battles in the future, the increasing radicalisation for the working course, therefore the quick split up of illusions into the government that is new.

The 2 unions in the mine are regional branches of this Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, which can be affiliated towards the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) that is now giving support to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), in addition to Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya, a United nationwide Party (UNP) union.

KGLL employees complain that the senior leaders of those unions ignore their needs. These unions, in reality, are notorious for opposing employees’ demands and acting as strikebreakers. Even though the mine employees have actually formerly taken action over their harsh working conditions and needed better pay, they are methodically dodged by the governments that are successive the help of the unions.

If the Sri Lankan federal federal government reopened the Kahatagaha graphite mine in 2006, after its closing with a company that is private previously managed it, employees had been compelled to signal an understanding which they will never form trade unions. Presently the employees are compensated a meagre daily risk allowance of just 20 rupees (US 11 cents) to get results 600 metres underneath the ground in Sri Lanka’s biggest and mine that is deepest.

In 2016, KGLL employees demanded a 400-rupee risk allowance that is daily. This is refused by handling of the state-owned business, which introduced a 400- rupee day-to-day motivation allowance but as long as workers collectively accomplished a month-to-month production target of 70 metric tonnes.

During last month’s attack, the federal government officials promised that the mine employees’ demands—which included wage increments, reduced amount of Saturday working hours, 21-days leave per 12 months and appropriate repayment of most other allowances—would be addressed by February 28. A day, as a “temporary” solution until then, the workers were given a pittance increment of 50 rupees.

The 50-rupee “temporary” solution is definitely an insult into the KGLL employees who possess maybe not gotten a wage enhance since 2012 and would include simply 1,200 rupees with their month-to-month income.

The workers restricted claims and their strike that is three-day and protest delivered a surprise revolution through the federal government. Industry and Logistics Management Minister Wimal Weerawansa ominously told employees never to cause inconvenience that is“any to the federal government. The ministry additionally imposed a news blackout, afraid that the hit might encourage other chapters of the class that is working take action over their long-outstanding needs.

One of many KGLL workers’ main demands is they be brought underneath the Office and stores Act, instead of the wage that is current Ordinance which presently determines their wages. This exercise that is futile which seeks an answer through the present capitalist labour laws and regulations, will likely not win the mine employees’ battle for decent wages, working hours and conditions.

When you look at the last analysis, whichever labour law can be used, the settlement is going to be considering an understanding amongst the trade unions, that do not express the employees, and management that is mine. Furthermore, the brand new Rajapakse federal federal government, like its predecessor, really wants to impose brand new labour rules, claiming that the present plans are hampering investment that is foreign.

While slashing business fees to lure investors, Rajapakse has guaranteed the plantation employees a 1,000-rupee day-to-day wage and told pupils he will deal with all their welfare problems. These “promises” are bogus and targeted at hoodwinking the populace into the lead as much as an earlier basic election.

The Rajapakse regime confronts a major financial crisis—the product of the global economic downturn—and massive repayments on foreign and domestic loans under conditions of declining economic growth.

At precisely the same time, the Overseas Monetary Fund (IMF) is demanding that the financial deficit be paid off to 3.5 % of gross domestic item, this means slashing subsidies, enhancing the cost of basics, therefore the privatisation or commercialisation of state-owned corporations and divisions.

President Rajapakse recently reactivated the Strategic developing venture Act, first introduced by their sibling and previous President Mahinda Rajapakse. Under this work, foreign investors get income tax holiday breaks as high as 25 years along with other incentives that are profit-boosting.

Sri Lanka has some associated with purest that is world’s and so the federal government is especially focusing on the graphite industry for international investment.

On December 13, the Ceylon Graphite Corp, a general public company noted on the Toronto stock market, because of the blessing regarding the federal government, started mining and research operations at Karasnagala in Sri Lanka’s Gampaha District. It really wants to expand how many mines it currently operates in Sri Lanka from 3 to 5 this current year.

Other operators are the Australia-based Bora Bora Resources business therefore the privatised Bogala Graphite Lanka, which will be a subsidiary of Germany’s Graphite Kropfmuhl GmbH which includes other mining operations in Africa and Asia.

The government’s drive to attract more foreign investors will see further moves to privatise KGLL. There was clearly an effort to privatise the ongoing business in 2016.

The IMF need for more commercialisation or privatisation of state-owned enterprises is always to increase efficiency, slash jobs and drive up earnings.

President Rajapakse happens to be being promoted by their governmental henchmen, the organization news in addition to pseudo-left as being unlike virtually any Sri Lanka president. He’s, they claim, somebody available to dialogue with protesting employees and pupils. This will be a fraudulence.

Rajapakse’s feigned concern is a hopeless and manoeuvre that is temporary avoid the eruption of the mass movement over jobs, residing costs as well as other fundamental legal rights, that could jeopardize not merely their presidency but capitalist guideline in general. Employee unrest when you look at the graphite mining, a business Colombo desires to start as much as increased foreign investor, has got to be prevented no matter what.

Rajapakse, in reality, is collecting their forces when preparing to crush the increasing social opposition of employees, youth while the rural bad. This is why he has got promoted extreme-right elements and army males in to the key federal government roles. Rajapakse’s aim that is ultimate to possess constitution amended so they can establish an authoritarian regime supported by the military.

Rajapakse’s battle for the presidency had been supported by Sri Lanka’s ruling elite have been afraid of, and determined to crush, the strikes and mass working course opposition that threw the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe federal government therefore the entire capitalist guideline into an emergency.

As President Rajapakse declared during their stop by at Asia year that is last “For a country to be governed successfully, you will need stability. … Without security, investors won’t come. ”

The Kahatagaha graphite miners—like other employees coming ahead to guard their social rights—confront not only mine administration but Colombo’s pro-investor policies, IMF-dictated austerity, the drive towards an authoritarian regime and, above all, the outmoded revenue system. Workers cannot defend their jobs, enhance their conditions that are social protect their fundamental legal legal legal rights without challenging capitalism.

To be able to move forward workers need a brand new governmental strategy. Distribution and production needs to be reorganised to profit nearly all culture, perhaps perhaps not the rich few. This could simply be achieved through the nationalisation for the major industries and enterprises—the large estates, the mining corporations, and also the banks—under the democratic control over the class that is working. This socialist system can only be implemented by bringing to energy a workers’ and peasants’ government into the battle for worldwide socialism.

As with other workplaces, the experiences regarding the Kahatagaha miners graphically indicate that the trade unions have grown to be tools associated with state and companies.

Miners as well as other employees must build action committees separately associated with unions and just take all decision-making within their own fingers. Because they build these committees employees can unite with wider parts of the working course in Sri Lanka and internationally. Sri Lankan mine employees are actually element of worldwide course brothers exploited by same international corporations.

The Socialist Equality Party urges the Kahatagaha mine employees to occupy this challenge that is political.

The author also advises:

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