A socialist perspective for the Sri Lankan university employees’ struggle

A socialist perspective for the Sri Lankan university employees’ struggle


The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) appeals to all employees in Sri Lanka and internationally to help the indefinite strike launched as we speak by some 17,000 non-academic employees, administrative officers and different staff of state universities. The motion is the third stoppage by non-academic employees in simply 5 weeks.

The essential demand of the employees is that they be paid all wage will increase and advantages granted to different public sector staff since 2015, together with wage incentives and a pension scheme.

Amid rising militancy among the many employees, the strike has been known as by the Joint Committee of College Commerce Unions (JCUTU) and the Central Commerce Union Committee.

The unions are in search of to restrict the dispute to instant calls for referring to salaries and dealing situations. The stoppage, nevertheless, is a sign of rising hostility amongst employees, lecturers and college students to the assault on public schooling carried out by successive governments, as a part of a broader offensive towards the social rights and dwelling situations of the working class as a complete.

The unions are doing the whole lot they will to forestall these sentiments from creating right into a broader confrontation of schooling employees and college students with the federal government and the whole political institution.

Although college lecturers have signalled their readiness to hitch the battle of non-academic workers, their commerce unions are in search of a sell-out cope with the federal government and have refused to take part within the strike.

The unions are in search of to isolate the non-academic employees from different sections of employees and youth, together with the tens of 1000’s of college college students who’ve held a collection of protests demanding improved amenities and opposing the privatisation of tertiary schooling.

Greater than 200,000 faculty lecturers will even start a two-day strike on September 26. That is their third protest this yr, in a marketing campaign for respectable wages, correct amenities and an finish to the imposition of burdens on mother and father.

Regardless of their political infighting, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, like their predecessors, each insist that there’s “no cash” to fulfill the calls for of any part of employees.

The federal government is granting a bunch of tax concessions to huge enterprise and international traders to spice up their income and intensify the exploitation of the working class. On the similar time, it’s slashing schooling and well being spending and imposing a rising price of dwelling.

In 2017 and 2018, government-sector actual wages declined by 7.2 p.c and a pair of p.c respectively. These within the non-public sector fell by 6 p.c and three.5 p.c.

These assaults are being dictated by the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF), which has demanded a discount of the fiscal deficit to three.5 p.c of gross home product in 2020, down from 7 p.c in 2015. That is geared toward putting the burden of the deepening capitalist disaster on the backs of the working class, underneath situations of large public money owed, the specter of a mortgage default and quickly declining financial progress.

These assaults have provoked a wave of struggles over the previous months, together with by plantation, railway, postal, well being, water provide, petroleum, telecom and different employees.

That is a part of a worldwide resurgence of working class wrestle. In India, 180 million employees engaged in a two-day strike in January, and strikes and protests of lecturers, auto and different employees have been on the rise since final month.

Within the US, a whole bunch of 1000’s of lecturers have taken strike motion and auto employees voted final week to stop-work as a part of the battle towards union-company cuts towards the destruction of jobs. In France, “Yellow Vest” protests proceed towards the Macron authorities, whereas Hong Kong has been shaken by mass demonstrations which have lasted for months.

These struggles are more and more rising in direct opposition to the corporatised unions. They’re responding by in search of to subordinate employees to the political institution, and by selling the lie that governments might be pressured to simply accept employees’ calls for.

In actuality, the coverage of the ruling class internationally is to show to authoritarian and dictatorial types of rule, in a bid to violently repress the rising class struggles. The fascistic insurance policies of Trump, in the USA, and the revival of German militarism in Europe, are paralleled within the Indian sub-continent by the Indian authorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s police-state lockdown of Kashmir.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe authorities equally seized on the Easter Sunday terrorist bomb assaults in Sri Lanka to equip the safety forces with draconian powers. Whereas the state of emergency has formally been lifted, these powers are continued underneath a public safety ordinance, which permits for the banning of commercial motion in “important” industries.

Within the lead-up to a presidential election, each get together of the capitalist class, together with the UNP, the SLFP, the SLPP and the JVP, is signalling its willingness to escalate the drive in the direction of dictatorship and to impose ever-deeper austerity.

This demonstrates that employees, together with non-academic workers, require an unbiased socialist program, in opposition to the whole political institution and the corporatised unions. The struggles of each part of employees can solely go ahead as a political battle towards the federal government and its defenders.

Staff should draw the teachings of their very own experiences. The unions have demonstrated, again and again, that they may suppress strikes and pressure by means of sell-out agreements with the employers and the federal government.

When the union ended the final two-day strike of non-academic employees on August 29, JCUTU co-president Mangala Dabarera blamed state bureaucrats from the salaries fee and College Grants Fee for not heeding to employees’ calls for. Dabarera, nevertheless, didn’t say a phrase of criticism towards the federal government.

A UNP union bureaucrat acknowledged: “If administrative officers don’t resolve these points, we’ll intervene politically.” All this implies is that the union officers will search to direct employees into impotent pleas to authorities officers, whereas they work out a betrayal.

On Friday, a union chief informed a gathering of non-academic employees at Moratuwa College that the strike would undoubtedly be launched. However in the identical breath, he mentioned that it could be known as off if a presidential election was known as, falsely claiming that this might be required by present laws.

His remark is the sharpest warning that the unions are getting ready to finish the commercial motion and do a sordid cope with the federal government. This demonstrates the urgency of employees taking the wrestle into their very own fingers. The next steps have to be taken:

  • Non-academic employees ought to increase their wrestle, by issuing an enchantment for joint motion to each part of the working class. The SEP calls on college lecturers, college students and college lecturers to rally to the battle of the non-academic workers, in defiance of the unions, and as a part of a typical wrestle to defend schooling and all social rights.
  • Constructing employees’ motion committees unbiased of the unions is an important political and organisation step ahead. It’s the solely technique of breaking out of the straightjacket imposed by the unions, and coordinating a real industrial and political marketing campaign. The SEP appeals to non-academic employees to construct such committees inside universities and of their neighbourhoods.

Final yr staff on the Abbotsleigh property in Hatton established an motion committee in response to an SEP enchantment. The committee made a robust intervention, amid a strike by a whole bunch of 1000’s of plantation employees for larger wages. Now, a gaggle of artists has responded to a name from the SEP for the formation of an motion committee to guard inventive freedom and all democratic rights.

Above all, what’s required is a socialist and internationalist perspective. The rights of employees and the poor can solely be secured by means of the reorganisation of society to fulfill human wants, not the revenue pursuits of a rich few. The banks, companies and factories ought to be positioned underneath public possession and democratic employees’ management.

This could solely be realised by means of the institution of employees’ and peasants’ authorities in Sri Lanka as a part of the wrestle for socialism all through South Asia and internationally. We urge employees, together with college staff, together with college students and youth, to hitch and construct the SEP as the required revolutionary management of this wrestle.



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