By Shelton Peiris
“A little bit of authoritarianism will do the country good”
The right to strike is an archaic notion that originated in America where workers were killed by disgruntled Employers using thugs wielding clubs and knuckle dusters. Under Lenin of Russia the mass strike was used effectively against the czars and land owners to set up a worker’s regime. It did not last long for the worker’s regime was unimaginably corrupt. Today it is capitalist rule and ownership private or by the State. Charles Dickens who wrote during the period of the Industrial Revolution in Britain succinctly portrayed the plight of workers in his classic ‘Oliver Twist’ Scrooge was the hard task master.
In the scenario of modern Sri Lanka, a developing economy in which three parties are the actors; the Government, the Employers and the Employees. A milieu of close understanding amongst the concerned parties is more than just desirable, but is an inescapable prerequisite. With the development envisaged all concerned parties must put their shoulders to the wheel and push with all their patriotic might .What is unfortunate for this country is that it has a parliamentary opposition that does not fully understand that it is part of this developing country, and that it too would benefit being citizens of Lanka.
Scoring political points by opposing all suggestion by the government, and inciting workers to strike for non existing grievances is the fools way to power, which if accepted by the working gentry will only result in a dictatorship being foist on a country with a record of many thousand years of lenient democracy.
Workers and employers have a duty by the country. Their problems should be settled amicably without damage to the economy. Discussing problems is the sane way for all concerned .The Trade Union Ordinance should be changed deleting the ‘Right to Strike’ in its place, first negotiations and in the event of a deadlock, arbitration as the last resort .A responsible government together with the employers should bear in mind that the worker bears the workload. It is his sweat and brawn that carries the country forward.
A developing country like ours can ill afford to lose working hours by wild cat strikes. What Sri Lanka urgently needs, as visiting Malaysian President Mahathir Mohamed said is a little bit of authoritarianism will do the country good.