Commentaries

07 Apr 2016

There is now a significant tradition of constitutions articulating principles and mechanisms enabling the exercise of people’s sovereignty over and democratisation of economic affairs. Such foundational norms do not merely serve to temper executive privilege but to also catalyse popular mobilisation and participation in economic affairs.

Ongoing debates in Sri Lanka concerning unrestrained, non-productive and even ‘hidden’ international borrowing to inequitable bilateral economic relations to unfavourable international procurement further underline the need for such norms.

04 Apr 2016

In the post-war North and East housing is a dire need. The provision of permanent housing, as well as livelihood creation, is pivotal for the resettlement of communities. As such, a Cabinet decision to build 65,000 houses for war-affected communities seemed to be a move in the right direction for a Government that came into power on promises of reconciliation and economic prosperity.

01 Apr 2016

The heavy international focus on prosecutions for war-time human rights abuses in Sri Lanka is a reductive view, often shutting down discussion as opinions become divisive. On the one hand, calls for prosecution come with the demand to have international judges, to ensure a credible process that addresses the deterioration of the criminal justice system. On the other hand, prosecution is often said to betray “war heroes” and international participation to undermine sovereignty.

27 Mar 2016

A bill was recently passed in parliament on March 11 that ensures private sector workers earning less than Rs. 40,000 will receive a mandated Rs. 2,500 increase. In addition, the bill fulfils a pledge from the Rajapaksa era to institute a national minimum wage of Rs. 10,000. While some details may be modified in the process of turning the bill into an act, it is worth addressing its content. The current government should be commended for making good on its promises from last year to increase private sector wages.

26 Mar 2016

The global economy is in crisis. The global recovery that was hoped for following the Great Recession of 2008 has failed and is now in the throes of deflation. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has the dangers of deflation - leading to falling prices and falling demand in a downward uncontrollable spiral - shaken the global economy on this scale.

20 Mar 2016

By Ahilan Kadirgamar, Lakmali Hemachandra, Mahendran Thiruvarangan, Niyanthini Kadirgamar and Swasthika Arulingam on behalf of the Collective for Economic Democratisation

The current process of constitutional reform has given much needed importance to concerns such as structures of the State, rule of law, separation of powers and power sharing arrangements. However, such an approach to Constitution-making has ignored a major concern for the people, of economic depravity and harm caused by development projects.

27 Jan 2016

Each January politicians and corporate executives from across the world gather at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos – with a Hollywood celebrity or glamorous royal in tow to excite the assembled media.

17 Jan 2016

Respect for the right to truth is recognised as central to post-war justice. The rightful demands of victim-survivors and their families for justice and the truth regarding many grievous harms and human rights abuses are at the heart of emerging transitional justice processes in Sri Lanka.

16 Jan 2016

Exactly a year after his election, President Maithripala Sirisena has initiated a welcome process to rewrite the country’s Constitution. The government is also moving ahead on transitional justice processes to address the UN Human Rights Council resolution unanimously adopted in September last year. However, progress on both the constitutional and transitional justice fronts, which seem to have the consensus of both the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe coming from historically opposing parties, depends to a large extent on the country’s economic future.

03 Jan 2016

The annual Asia Floor Wage Alliance meeting held on December 17-20th at the Sri Lanka Foundation was a critical opportunity to bring activists together from across the region to discuss the pressing needs of garment workers. Participants arrived from over nine countries to highlight issues in an industry that provides clothing for much of the world, including for famous brands such as Gap, H&M, Marks and Spencer, Next, Inditex, and Adidas.

15 Dec 2015

Public education has been at the centre of many struggles in Sri Lanka. While images of the brutal attacks on the HNDA student protests are still fresh in our minds, another budget has been presented to us by the Government. Increases in the allocations for education was announced as a highlight of the 2016 Budget. As a sector that has a widespread interest among the people, this Government’s policy direction for education proposed in the budget has generated much debate.

29 Nov 2015

The 2016 Budget has been welcomed by the business and economic establishment. The big question is whether economic policies good for business are necessarily good for the economy and the people? To what extent are the economic policies in the 2016 Budget and the Prime Minister’s Economic Policy Statement different from the crisis-prone economic policies of the past?Economic policies in recent decades have been dominated by a neoliberal vision of transforming the economy to ensure the greater accumulation of profits by finance capital.

18 Nov 2015

A common refrain today among many in Jaffna town is about its youth “perpetuating social evils.”

Offering a ready analysis of post-war Jaffna society, they are often quick to point to the “rowdy behaviour of youngsters who simply loiter on the roads and harass people”, or are “forever speaking on their mobile phones.” This moral judgment is problematic in its generalisation. It not only fails to appreciate the complex reality faced by a generation that was born during a war, but also ignores the nature of transformation that our society has undergone.

19 Aug 2015

The parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka held risks of polarisation and the re-emergence of authoritarian politics. But the Lankan voters rejected divisive politics for the second time this year. The United National Party (UNP) will likely form the new government, while the moderating presence of President Maithripala Sirisena as leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the engagement of smaller parties like the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will help reinforce democracy.

02 Aug 2015

Recent mainstream economic policy making in Sri Lanka has been promoting the idea of labour “flexibility”. The assumption is that labour laws are too restrictive with respect to matters such as firing employees or determining work hours. These laws are seen as imposing labour market “rigidity”. Both terms appeal to common sense. Flexibility in particular is viewed as creating more options for workers and employers.

12 Jul 2015

A year ago, on July 4, the late Bala Tampoe led a walkout of the trade union leaders in the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC).

In a statement signed a month later by Tampoe and four other trade union leaders, they explained the reasons for their walkout to the Minister of Labour saying it was as a result of the failure to implement a series of agreements spanning many years.

07 Jul 2015

Below is the text of the presentation made by Buddhima Padmasiri at the Sunday Times Business Club, in the forum on “Outsourcing Jobs Versus Permanent Employment” on 29 June 2015

14 Jun 2015

As the private sector workers are campaigning to secure the Rs. 2,500 increase to their monthly salaries, manpower workers in public and private sector jobs are faced with a difficult struggle.

07 May 2015

වත්මන් දින සීයේ ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණ ව්‍යාපාරයේ වැඩපිළිවෙලින් කම්කරු පංතියට ලැබෙන්නේ කුමක් ද? මෙම ව්‍යාපාරයේදී යෝජිත ව්‍යවස්ථා ප්‍රතිසංස්කරණය පිළිබඳ කතිකාවට අමතරව පෞද්ගලික අංශයේ වැටුප් වැඩි කිරීම පිළිබඳව ද සාකච්ඡා කරන දේශපාලන අවකාශයක් නිර්මානය කර ගැනීමට වැඩ කරන ජනතාව සමත් වී තිබේ.

2005දී අයවැයෙන් දුන් වැටුප් වැඩි කිරීම පරිද්දෙන් පාර්ලිමේන්තු පනතක් ඔස්සේ නෛතිකව රු. 2500ක වැටුප් වැඩි කිරීමක් ලබා දෙන ලෙස වෘත්තීය සමිති වර්තමානයේදී ඉල්ලා සිටියි.

07 May 2015

What is the significance of May 1st in Sri Lanka? Although it is a seemingly broad question, the connection between May Day and the larger workers’ struggle provides a useful opportunity to reflect on the successes and losses of the country’s labour movement. Toward this end, the authors of this article sat down and discussed with veteran unionists and organizers regarding both the history of May Day and contemporary challenges. The goal was to use May Day as a platform to discuss larger issues affecting labour organizing in Sri Lanka.

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