Posted by the Overseas Committee for the 4th Overseas (ICFI)
Kahatagaha miners in Sri Lanka must fight for socialist policies
By Naveen Dewage
7 February 2020
Final thirty days, 130 employees during the Kahatagaha that is state-owned Graphite Limited (KGLL), hit for three times to need better pay and dealing conditions. They reluctantly decided to phone the strike off after a conversation using the industry ministry, labour division officials and business administration in the Kurunegala Labour workplace. State officials therefore the company promised to handle employees’ demands within per month.
The three-day walkout and hunger protest within the mine, that has been held in defiance associated with the mine unions’ leadership, ended up being the very first commercial action this current year since President Gotabhaya Rajapakse found energy. It absolutely was a clear indication for the nature associated with the battles in the future, the increasing radicalisation for the working class, in addition to fast separation of illusions within the brand new federal government.
The 2 unions in the mine are regional branches associated with Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, which can be affiliated into the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) that is now giving support to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), therefore the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya, a United nationwide Party (UNP) union.
KGLL employees complain that the senior leaders of the unions ignore their demands. These unions, in reality, are notorious for opposing workers’ demands and acting as strikebreakers. As the mine employees have actually formerly taken action over their harsh working conditions and required better pay, they’ve been methodically dodged by the governments that are successive the help of the unions.
Once the Sri Lankan federal federal government reopened the Kahatagaha graphite mine in 2006, as a result of its closing by way of a company that is private formerly managed it, workers had been compelled to signal an understanding they wouldn’t normally form trade unions. Presently the employees are compensated a meagre daily danger allowance of simply 20 rupees (US 11 cents) to exert effort 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 company that is state-owned which introduced a 400- rupee day-to-day motivation allowance but as long as workers collectively accomplished a monthly 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. Until then, the employees got a pittance increment of 50 rupees on a daily basis, being a “temporary” solution.
The 50-rupee “temporary” solution is an insult towards the KGLL employees that have maybe perhaps not gotten a wage enhance since 2012 and would include simply 1,200 rupees for their month-to-month wage.
The workers restricted claims and their three-day attack and hunger protest delivered a surprise wave through the federal government. Industry and Logistics Management Minister Wimal Weerawansa ominously told employees not to ever cause inconvenience that is“any into the federal government. The ministry additionally imposed a news blackout, afraid that the attack might encourage other parts of the working course to do something over their long-outstanding needs.
Among the KGLL workers’ main demands is that they be brought underneath the Office and stores Act, rather than the wage that is current Ordinance which presently determines their wages. This useless workout, which seeks an answer through the present capitalist labour regulations, will likely not win the mine employees’ fight for decent wages, working hours and conditions.
Into the final analysis, whichever labour law is employed, the settlement will likely be predicated on an agreement between your trade unions, that do not express the employees, and management that is mine. More over, the brand new Rajapakse federal federal government, like its predecessor, would like to impose brand brand new labour laws and regulations, claiming that the present plans are hampering investment that is foreign.
A 1,000-rupee daily wage and told students that he will address all of their welfare issues while slashing corporate taxes to lure investors, Rajapakse has promised the plantation workers. These “promises” are bogus and targeted at hoodwinking the populace into the lead as much as an early on election that is general.
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is demanding that the fiscal deficit be reduced to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, which means slashing subsidies, increasing the price of essentials, and the privatisation or commercialisation of state-owned corporations and departments at the same time.
President Rajapakse recently reactivated the Strategic Development Project Act, first introduced by their sibling and President Mahinda that is former Rajapakse. Under this work, international investors get taxation breaks as much as 25 years along with other profit-boosting incentives.
Sri Lanka has some associated with purest that is world’s therefore the federal government is particularly targeting the graphite industry for international investment.
On December 13, the Ceylon Graphite Corp, a general public business noted on the Toronto stock market, because of the blessing of this federal government, started mining and research operations at Karasnagala in Sri Lanka’s Gampaha District. It would like to expand how many mines it presently runs in Sri Lanka from 3 to 5 this current year.
Other operators are the Australia-based Bora Bora Resources business while the privatised Bogala Graphite Lanka, that will be a subsidiary of Germany’s Graphite Kropfmuhl GmbH that has other mining operations in Africa and Asia.
The government’s drive to attract more investors that are foreign see further moves to privatise KGLL. There is an effort to privatise the business in 2016.
The IMF interest in more commercialisation or privatisation of state-owned enterprises would be to increase efficiency, slash jobs and drive up earnings.
President Rajapakse happens to be being promoted by their henchmen that are political the organization news plus the pseudo-left as being unlike some other Sri Lanka president. He could be, they claim, somebody available to dialogue with protesting workers and pupils. This might 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 along with other fundamental liberties, that will jeopardize not only their presidency but capitalist guideline in general. Employee unrest when you look at the graphite mining, a market Colombo would like to open as much as increased investor that is foreign has got to be prevented no matter what.
Rajapakse, in reality, is collecting their forces when preparing to crush the increasing opposition that is social of, youth plus the rural bad. This is the reason he has got promoted extreme-right elements and army males to the government that is key. Rajapakse’s ultimate aim is to possess constitution amended so he is able to establish an authoritarian regime supported by the armed forces.
Rajapakse’s battle for the presidency ended up being backed by Sri Lanka’s ruling elite who had been afraid of, and determined to crush, the strikes and mass working course opposition that threw the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe federal government together with entire capitalist rule into an emergency.
As President Rajapakse declared during their stop by at Asia a year ago, “For a country to be governed successfully, you want stability. … Without security, investors won’t come. ”
The Kahatagaha graphite miners—like other workers coming ahead to guard their social rights—confront not merely mine management but Colombo’s pro-investor policies, IMF-dictated austerity, the drive towards an authoritarian regime and, above all, the profit system that is outmoded. Workers cannot defend their jobs, enhance their social conditions and protect their fundamental legal legal rights without challenging capitalism.
To be able to move forward workers need a brand new governmental strategy. Manufacturing and circulation should be reorganised to profit nearly all culture, maybe not the rich few. This may simply be accomplished through the nationalisation associated with the major industries and enterprises—the large estates, the mining corporations, as well as the banks—under the democratic control of the working course. This socialist system can simply be implemented by bringing to power a workers’ and peasants’ federal government into the battle for worldwide socialism.
Like bad credit installment loans in other workplaces, the experiences for the Kahatagaha miners graphically prove that the trade unions are becoming tools regarding the state and companies.
Miners along with other employees must build action committees separately associated with the unions and just just just take all decision-making within their very own fingers. Because they build these committees employees can unite with broader chapters of the class that is working Sri Lanka and internationally. Sri Lankan mine employees are actually element of worldwide course brothers exploited by exact exact exact same corporations that are global.
The Socialist Equality Party urges the Kahatagaha mine employees to use up this challenge that is political.
The writer additionally advises:
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