All Operations at the Colombo Port came to a complete standstill on Friday (31) evening as a mark of protest to urge authorities to suspend any attempt to lease the East Container Terminal (ECT) to India and commence all ECT operations via the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The Joint Trade Union Collective of the Colombo Port is staging a satyagraha campaign against the move to lease the ECT.
Port Trade Unions marched from the Main Gate of the Colombo Port to the Leyden Bastian Gate and pledged their support to the workers engaged in the Sathyagraha campaign.
Operations at the Colombo Port came to a complete standstill when workers decided to obstruct the port access road from the Hartal Bridge as the government is yet to provide a proper solution to their issue.
Secretary of the Ports, Commerce, Industries, and Progressive Workers Union, Shamal Sumanaratne speaking to his fellow protestors said despite the suspension of operations causing losses to the state, the leasing of ECT to India would result in monumental losses to the country in the long-run.
” The President must give us assurance, ECT will not be leased to anyone and it will be developed by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority”, said the trade union leader adding he apologizes to the nation for the inconvenience caused by their trade union action.
However, he said this trade union action was launched to protect a valuable asset to the Sri Lankan economy, one which can realize the aspirations of all citizens in the country in the future.
Venerable Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero, an activist, who visited the site said the present government ministers are reaching agreements via the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka and Businesses to sell off invaluable assets at cheap prices.
He reprimanded the President and the Prime Minister for passing the issue to each other rather than solving the matter.
Meanwhile, Namal Rajapaksa, a Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate stressed that the government is against the privatization of national resources.
“Our policy is that we are against privatization,” Rajapaksa said on Friday.
He added that some trade unions favourable to the United National Party had not voiced concerns when the Hambantota Port was leased out during the previous government.
“Those who were quiet back then, are now shouting against signing the agreement,” the candidate remarked.