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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 May 2013

Sri Lanka: Working class beginning to move forward

Srinath Perera, United Socialist Party (USP - CWI, Sri Lanka)

A one-day protest general strike held on 21 May was a significant step forward for the working class in Sri Lanka.

It was called by the Coordinating Committee of the Trade Union Alliance as a warning shot against the huge hike in electricity tariffs by President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government.

Although the strike was not a complete success, it nevertheless sent a powerful message to the autocratic regime in this country.

In fact, the 21 May action was the first national token strike since the defeat of the historic July 1980 general strike.

In that respect it represents the beginning of a new era for the Sri Lankan working class.

Although the trade union alliance tirelessly worked round the clock to make the strike a success, its inability to reach out to important layers of the working class, mainly in the public sector and also in some private sector establishments, was visible.

The betrayals of the so-called radical, traditional trade union leaders of the LSSP and CP - who wavered initially and then tried to sabotage the strike - impacted on the majority of the working class who were bewildered by the government's massive anti-strike propaganda and frightened by various threats and intimidation from the bosses.

The different trade union leaders, linked to different political parties, are now being pushed to come together and take joint decisions to win the demands of the working class.

This unity must be consolidated by forming, at national level, a democratic workers' convention to discuss future plans, the problems faced by the working class, and to take common decisions on future action.


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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 29 May 2013:


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International socialist news and analysis

Oppose Kazakhstan regime's latest campaign clampdown

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Related links:

Sri Lanka:

triangleBuilding a working-class movement for Tamil rights

triangleSri Lanka: Presidential election sees return of dictatorial Rajapaksa clan

triangleKashmir crisis: Stop the attack on democratic rights

triangleTamil Solidarity Day: Linking up oppressed people's struggles

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triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

Trade union:

triangleHull: Defend Tony Smith!

Mahinda Rajapaksa:

triangleSri Lanka: No to terrorist bombing

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