As reported by media on 20th April 2021 the government decided following the health guidelines to prevent the pandemic to cancel all May Day Rallies and events after a discussion held between political party leaders and the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO). Trade Union leaders were not invited for this discussion.
The day prior (19th April 2021) at the discussion chaired by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Colombo the political parties and trade unions were allocated a playground to organize the May Day rallies as per our request, the P D Sirisena Stadium located at Maligawatta was allocated to our union.
Meanwhile, health sector experts including professional organizations are warning of the emergence of a third wave of the Covid19. The official data of the health sector records more than 100,000 infected persons as at April 24th 2021. By then nearly 2000 persons have been identified as infected during the last two days. New guidelines were introduced to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 wave.
The letter submitted to the President on 25th February 2021, requesting to prioritize the export sector workers in the national vaccination program to prevent Covid 19 pandemic was not taken into consideration.
Although the Tripartite Task Force to prevent Covid 19 pandemic established at the Ministry of Labour decided to set-up bilateral health committees consisting of workers before 15th December 2020, the industry owners have not yet set up such health committees. The department of Labour also showed no interest in following up to ensure its implementation.
In this backdrop, many industries in the export manufacturing sector including the apparel industry either had to shut down their operations or quarantine large numbers of their workers during the past few months.
Our General Council gave special focus to these precarious health conditions that have emerged during this May Day. It has been our observation that regardless of the healthcare measures declared by the government, these are violated under the patronage of political and large businesses. The spring fiesta that is being hosted by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal council is such an example. Many wealthy people have gathered around this festival. Also, the night parties organized by star hotels in Colombo and the suburbs also do not abide by the covid 19 related guidelines. Gama Samaga Pilisadara Program that accumulates villages is a similar state event that ignores the covid guidelines. Therefore, we claim that the government cannot wash its hands off from the responsibility of the recent widespread of Covid-19.
As the government is responsible for the conditions that led to forgo May Day demonstrations and meetings, we register our protest against the government.
As large gatherings will be risky not only for the participating workers but also for the police officers employed on that day, as a responsible union we are not willing to neglect our responsibilities and have decided not to conduct the long-established May Day rally and demonstrations of our union will not be conducted since..
Nevertheless, we decided to symbolically commemorate the International Workers' Day 2021, symbolically on an online social media platform.
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