Colombo: Around 1000 trade unions in Sri Lanka on Thursday organized a one-day nationwide strike demanding the immediate resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. There are demands for his resignation for failing to deal with the unprecedented economic crisis in the country. For the first time since independence from Britain in 1948, Sri Lanka has been the victim of such an unexpected economic upheaval. The crisis is partly due to a lack of foreign exchange, which means Sri Lanka is unable to pay for imports of essential food and fuel. Due to this, the prices of most of the commodities, including the shortage of essential commodities, increased. Unions from several sectors took part in the strike in which workers from the state service, health, port, electricity, education and postal departments participated.
During this, a theme of the strike was set which was, “Bend before the people, go home, go home.” In view of this, the people demanded the President and the Prime Minister to ‘go home’. Ravi Kumudesh of the health workers’ trade union said they would give the government a week’s time to resign after Thursday’s strike. Ravi said that after this he would go on strike till the government resigns. Ravi said that more than 1000 trade unions took part in the strike. The Bank Employees Union said that due to the strike, all banks remained closed and there was very little public traffic. Opposition leader Mano Ganesan said agricultural workers also took part in the strike. Meanwhile, Transport Minister Dilam Amunugama said the police have been directed to arrest those causing damage to public transport and affecting private transport in the wake of the strike. He said that the police would take legal action against those who blocked the road.
Sri Lanka Railways General Manager Dhammika Jayasundara said train services would be disrupted due to reports of ill health of railway employees without prior notice. Sangh’s co-convener SP Vithange said that the railway workers are on strike despite plans to run several trains with the minister’s intervention. Significantly, Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy due to heavy foreign debt, lacking foreign exchange reserves, due to which it is unable to import important things like fuel and food grains. Protesters gathered on the streets since March 31 are blaming President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family, who have ruled the island country for the past 20 years, for this severe economic crisis of the country.