Pelwatte Sugar employees protest Claim Govt. trying to privatize Pelwatte and Sewanagala sugar

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By 2017-11-23

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

About 4,000 employees of the Pelwatte Sugar Factory engaged in a massive protest yesterday (22) afternoon obstructing the Wellawaya-Moneragala main road in opposition to an alleged arrangement to privatize through the 2018 Government Budget proposals, the profitable Pelwatte and Sewanagala Sugar Companies.

Moneragala District Representative of the Inter-Company Employees Union and employee of the Pelwatte Sugar Company, Priyantha Attanayake stressed to Ceylon Today that they will not allow the Government to privatize Pelwatte and Sewanagala Sugar Companies which are earning profits at present.

These two companies are under the control of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Prior to 2011, the Pelwatte Sugar Factory was controlled by businessman Harry Jayawardena. The Sewanagala Sugar Factory was under the control of businessman and United National Party (UNP) Ampara District Member of Parliament and Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage.

However the Pelwatte and Sewanagala Sugar Companies were acquired by the previous Government through the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises or Underutilized Assets Act, No. 43 of 2011 stating that the two Companies were making losses.

The budget proposals for 2018 which were presented by Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera recently, have suggested that this particular Act be abolished.

"Thirty six institutions including these two factories were acquired by the Government through this Act. Subsequently, these two Sugar Companies had become profitable. At the same time, these have become institutions that provide large scale services now.

Therefore if the Government is preparing to once again privatize the two factories at Pelwatte and Sewanagala which fulfil the sugar requirement of the country, we will oppose it and take massive trade union action in the future," Attanayake added.

Only employees of the Pelwatte Sugar Company participated in the protest yesterday which had been organized by the Inter-Company Employees Union.

As a result of this protest, traffic on the Wellawaya-Moneragala main road was obstructed for several hours.

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