WHAT IS MEANT BY “ WORK TO RULE” BY TRADE UNIONS?
Posted on November 2nd, 2009

By Dr M D P DISSANAYAKE

If the workers go on strike, they lose their pay packets. But staying inside the work place and not performing their duties under the banner of “work to rule” they still get their salaries and wages.

Sri lankan government has been too lenient towards the Trade Unions in the recent past. They have been promised pay rises from December, but still planning to derail the essential services of the country. The timing of the “work to rule” campaign is coinciding with the upcoming Presidential and General Elections of the country.

It is common knowledge that some of the employees of these organizations are not performing their duties properly. For example, at the Petroleum Corporation Refinery, there are several tanks and bowsers leaking fuel, the maintenance crew turn a blind eye. Corporation vehicles are misused for private purposes. Lunch hour is more than an hour, with extended time taken for playing Carrom or Cards. Short leave, French Leave is a normality at the institutions. Most employees sign the attendance and spend time attending their personal affairs. They leave Offices with the full knowledge of the supervisors ( because Supervisors also do the same) to attend their private matters during working hours or meeting friends and relatives in the City.

The productivity of these institutions are at the lowest level. There are few dedicated employees and Managers, but they are being constantly intimidated. With so many public holidays, Poya holidays, annual leave, sick leave, casual leave, short leave, French Leave, they must think where the “money is coming from” to run a business.

It is imperative that the government should take a firm stand now. That should include declaration of the Institutions as Essential Services and deployment of Army to carry out the tasks. Union Membership fee deduction from the Pay Roll must be stopped immediately. The Registrar of Trade Unions must be authorized to cancel the Trade Union permits of those participating in the “work to rule”.

The general public will fully support the government, if it can show toughness against conspirators. As there are plenty of highly educated unemployed people in the country, new recruitment should begin, after giving an ultimatum.

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