By Ifham Nizam
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, MP, yesterday (02) met a group of petroleum sector trade union representatives against the backdrop of Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera sending several trade unionists on compulsory leave. The meeting lasted nearly two hours.
Alleging that they had disrupted fuel supplies, minister Wijesekera ordered disciplinary action against them regardless of their party affiliations.
Sources said that CPC workers sought the former President’s intervention to thwart Minister Wijese-kera’s plans . Reiterating their strong opposition to the planned privatisation of the CPC, the workers said that they were hopeful of the former President making a meaningful intervention.
Ministry sources said that though Minister Wijesekera respected the former President, the ongoing plans couldn’t be reversed.
On the instructions of the Minister, 20 trade unionists including several CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL) employees were sent on compulsory leave and barred from entering both CPC and storage terminal premises.
Minister Wijesekera also requested the IGP to conduct an investigation into the disruption to CPC operations on 28 March.In a letter to the IGP, the Minister alleged that a group of workers engaged in a fast opposite the CPSTL premises forced their way into the ‘safe zone’, where fuel distribution was taking place, and chased away the employees.
In addition, the group had also turned back the fuel tankers.Minister Wijesekera also alleged that an attempt had been made to damage the fuel distribution pipes, etc.