The proposed Private Pensions Bill was shelved following massive trade union campaigns and a killing of a Katunayake FTZ worker last May, but trade unions have complained to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the IGP over recent intrusions by the CID.
Trade union representatives said CID officers raided, intimidated and harassed the staff members of union offices involved in the protests without a search warrant.
Writing to the Police Chief, Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ & GSEU) condemned the CID conduct saying the acts of intimidation and harassment undermined the union’s lawful activities and it was clearly in violation of principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.
Anton Marcus, Joint Secretary of FTZ & GSEU said the matter was also brought up at the last meeting of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) held on August 5 also attended by Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge. There the trade unions roundly condemned the unwarranted action of the Police and CID in conducting searches on offices of unions that were involved in the Katunayake agitation over the Private Sector Pensions issue.
“On July 29 the CID officers who intruded trade union offices in Katunayake searched, rummaged files and documents and questioned the officials present. This intrusion into the office was without a valid search warrant and this he said was an attempt by state authorities to undermine legitimate trade union function,” Mr. Anton Marcus.
The FTZ & GSEU while sending copies of the IGP’s letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, all trade union members of the National Labour Advisory Council and all trade unions in the JTUA, asked to hold an urgent inquiry into the alleged conduct of the CID.
FTZ & GSEU, a member of the Joint Trade Union Alliance in its complaint to the IGP said the alleged intrusion and intimidation by the police was despite the undertaking given to the Supreme Court when ten fundamental rights petitions filed by workers who subjected to police attacks during May 30 protest in Katunayake. In the said actions, the police had given and undertaking not to harass the petitioners and the unions.
The trade union in its letter to the IGP stated that on last July 29 two CID officers namely E.S.P Edrisinghia and officer Isuru Sampath visited trade union office without any search warrant and questioned one of the zonal organizer and asked to provide information on the details of trade union members, staff and their salaries and about other supporting the union. During this incident CID officer had taken some files forcibly and noted down details of branch union officials.
The Joint Secretary of FTZ & GSEU also had complained that CID had moved around union head office at Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha, Colombo 10 and collected information. He stated that officers of the State Intelligence Bureau have been deployed for espionage and observe the movements trade union leaders.