Daily Archives: July 27, 2006
Fowzie accuses Bharatha of misusing the President’s name and giving bogus promises
With the fuel supply still a long way off from normality, petroleum workers yesterday threatened to strike again depending on whether the court allows Asantha de Mel to continue as Chairman of Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminal Limited (CPSTL).
The CPC unions said they would launch a joint strike with the support of the Ceylon Electricity Board and the Railway unions if the government went back on its pledge to review the appointment of Mr. de Mel.
CPC officials said they were expecting fuel supplies to be back to normal today.
An angry Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M. Fowzie insisted the government would not give into trade union demands and was ready to face any strike in the future.
“We are prepared with necessary alternatives if a strike occurs and Mr. de Mel will continue as the Chairman,” he said.
He accused presidential trade union advisor Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra of having misused the President’s name and of misleading the workers and the courts.
“When we get court approval we will go ahead with what we planned. His father started the strike and he sabotaged it by giving false pledges to the workers. The son ended what the father began as their lives were at threat,” the Minister said.
Minister Fowzie said Mr. Premachandra on Tuesday had read out a false statement saying,
the President promised to solve the matter within two weeks and to not allow Asantha de Mel into the CPSTL premises until then.
Joint Petroleum Trade Union Alliance spokesman D.M. Rajakaruna said the unions were forced to strike because the Minister kept threatening the unions.
He said their main intention was to protect the fuel industry from being invaded by foreign companies.
“But to do that we have to first safeguard our rights,” the spokesman said.
He told the Daily Mirror the unions called off the strike on Tuesday evening on an assurance given by Mr. Premachandra whom the unions considered was the government’s representative.
Mr. Rajakaruna said Minister Fowzie was putting the whole country at risk in his attempt to safeguard his or some individual’s esteem.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the present CPC Chairman Jaliya Medagama was old and incompetent.
“To be frank, he is too old and unable to handle his duties at the CPC itself. So how can he oversee both the CPC and the CPSTL. Normally a state institution chairman resigns when a government changes. But Mr. Medagama stayed on and we allowed it till we found a suitable replacement,” the Minister said.
Mr. Fowzie said there was a lot of corruption at the CPC mainly because there was no proper management with a backbone.
“Even its CEO Lionel Balagalle is afraid of the unions. The unions are against appointing a new chairman because they can’t work according to their whim,” he said.
Minister Fowzie said the country could not function like this if unions start striking for such trivial matters.
“Employees should be led by intelligent people. They think they are great people but these union leaders use their brains to destroy the country,” he added while noting that it was unfortunate that he could not brief the Prime Minister before he had the discussions with the unions.
According to Mr. Fowzie there was an act of sabotage causing damage to a valve which distributes crude oil and repairs would cost three million rupees.Meanwhile, the CEB and Railway unions said they are willing to support any trade union action by CPC workers.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday told the Cabinet that it was wrong for Mr. Premachandra to intervene in this matter and that he had not given him the authority to do so.
“That is not his business and he has not got my permission to do so. This is a matter which completely comes under Minister Fowzie,” he said.
The President agreed with the Cabinet when it said it was harmful to keep such people in such posts.
“I cannot keep faith in such people. I will take appropriate action.”
-Daily Mirror By Gagani Weerakoon and Kasun Yapa Karunaratne