Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rights of citizens, social peace and trade unions

By Fr. Augustine Fernando- 

Diocese of Badulla

Hardly a day passes in this country when we do not hear of some trade union creating a rumpus somewhere and threatening to strike over claims that seemingly have to be solved immediately as demanded by it. And if such demands are not granted many problems and social disruptions may follow. The ultimatums are justified, clear and direct at least so far as the trade unions are concerned. Unions of trades, crafts and professions have functioned for a long time. They are concerned about the terms of employment, ‘commissions’ conditions of health and security provided for workers, retirement benefits, etc. Over the years trade unions have shifted their goal posts. They have become an infuriating annoyance to the people at large.


Trade unions presumably claim to be acting on behalf and for the protection of the well-being of the members of the trade union and wedded to justice and righteousness, presuming also to be basing themselves and upholding truth and value whether that presumption is explicit or implicit. Many trades and professions compel employees to subscribe and become members of their unions. And trade unions besides having the professional well-being of its members as its objective, have also ideological and political stances. Because these latter objectives get over-emphasized in the hands of union leaders, many are wary of being union members who feel that the process of decision making is not democratic and that their opposing views are disregarded.


The time has come for the Government to clarify matters concerning the rights of the people in general to live their lives without hindrance from self-absorbed political and trade union groups who draw undue attention to themselves by causing great disruption to society.

The time has also come for the Government to do a thorough clean-up of the existing corrupt political apparatus, identify the rogues who have contemptuously abused sports, journalism, even the legal set-up and political system and swindled the people of this country, by engaging in crooked deals, not knowing the spirit of life, let alone sports, journalism, law or politics, and murdered innocent poor people, sportsmen, journalists, men of the law and politicians and gained all sorts of advantages by way of bribes, kickbacks, payoffs and ‘commissions’ of percentages and stashed such ill-gotten gains in secret bank accounts abroad for their own opportunistic personal selfish

use. There are prominet figures in Sri Lanka called 10%, 20% and 40% characters! The recent strikes of the Petroleum Corporation and the Medical Officers . Those who call the strike would surely keep their family members, relatives and friends well informed in advance to prevent them from being adversely affected by their strike. But the 12000 to say 20000 who strike hold more than 20 million people to ransom. This is more than bastardizing trade unionism. It is because they are somewhat like low-born devils that the sensitive ordinary people with common sense curse these senseless maddening striking doctors and say that seven thunderbolts should strike them. People are held to ransom by the fellows who have been employed in the name of the people and as their servants. If the trade unionists in the public service do not understand that basic fact, they should get their heads examined by psychiatrists. Unfortunately some psychiatrists who have not had a grounding in social morality and professional ethics are also going on strike, perhaps because they only know of children’s and minor’s psyche; and these psychotic trade unionists are instigating others to strike because they themselves are thoroughly ignorant of the healthy psyche of normal adults.



The striking unions do not bother about the working hours wasted, work obstructed and the losses the country incurs due to the strike and the great suffering inflicted on the poor people by fellows who have hours to waste at pleasurable leisure. Are they trade unionists or political ideologists or are they mentally deranged idiots who think they are somewhat superior to others? If they are taking political leadership behind the mask of trade unionists, they are presenting themselves not as distinct politicians but as political meddlers who have misjudged and felt somewhat a political strength they do not possess. Political strength comes from the approval of the people. Crowds that gather around a bunch of megalomaniacs do not indicate political support.

A good many who come to political meetings are unfocussed and like to be politically distracted and somewhat entertained. People are discerning and keep themselves informed even without attending political meetings. For every one person who attends, there are a hundred who don’t. A more balanced, sane and well-thought out political view of the people as a whole is obtained at democratic elections at critical political junctures. And we have had two such successful and fair general elections, the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in January and August 2015 in the midst of bribes of various forms offered to the people to which the majority did not succumb.


There is an even distribution of sanity among the people. Therefore, they should critically support the Government they have elected and the Government should be sensitive enough to ascertain correctly the temperament of the people, dialogue with them and adjust their policies to do justice to the numerous issues they face in a manner that benefits the people and raises them to a better level of life than before. That ministers themselves are hard at work, not hardly at work, should be evident to the people not by their talk but by their actual performance. It is up to the Central Bank statisticians to honestly measure the rising level of national production and the correct distribution of wellbeing of the people without yielding to the influence of overbearing political powers who would like to juggle the figures, as have happened in the past sometimes, most disgracefully. There are those who theorize about sustainable development of the Country. But for any development, beneficial progress, advancement of all to actually take place, all should do an eight-hours job of honest work, day-in and day-out throughout a year, without taking ‘french leave’ on the slightest excuse as many are wont to do in our land.


All of us should admit that most of the time, we do not always satisfactorily balance thinking with our heads with the emotional feelings of our hearts. And we are often deadened in our spirits. That is the reason why we as Sri Lankans have been muddling through maddeningly for nearly seventy years while those who were far behind us at the time of our Independence have forged ahead leaving us far behind.

Trade Union leaders and political ideologists who are like walking dead are responsible for that. It is time that the Government realized that and prioritized the people and offered them every assistance to be productive and to contribute in their various ways to a national resurgence.

The people have been for the most part working and suffering in silence, forbearance and patience. But if the Government acted justly and fairly there is every possibility that the people will so perform until they are able to do an improved repeat performance of January and August 2015 at the next elections in 2020 and give a resounding final knock-out to the defeated rogues and achieve a hat trick in the first three rounds itself in the national elections ball game of the twentyfirst century. Then we might have a period of peace and serenity and a climate of a truly reconciled country growing in fraternity.