Sri Lanka Telecom suffers fresh blow following workers industrial action
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Industrial action demanding December bonus impacts Sri Lanka Telecom operations and clients Management says SLT loss making and heavily in debt hence cannot afford bonus.
SLT CEO issues memo to staff detailing the challenges and efforts put in place for turnaround.
Industrial action by trade unions demanding December bonus amidst current financial challenges has impacted operations and clients of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT).
Unions-influenced workers have struck work for the second day as enterprise customers complained about lags in SLT services.
Payment of one month December bonus is among demands made by the unions which also want recent Government nominees on the Board being removed and sale of Treasury stake suspended.
Industry sources said SLT has a dozen unions and latest industrial action does not augur well for the on-going efforts to divest State ownership.
“It is certainly a big blow for the confidence of prospective investors,” they said, adding that trade unions had made unfair demands in terms of bonus.
Industrial action is despite SLT CEO Janaka Abeysinghe on Monday explaining to Union representatives about the organisation’s financial challenges.
It was pointed out that although SLT achieved an Operating Profit up to Q3 2023 similar to 2022, there was no basis for paying a bonus for the year 2023 when the Profit Before Tax up to the third quarter of 2023 shows a loss.
The latter is due to the unfavourable situations and actions taken in the past.SLT is also saddled with long-term and Short-term loans of over Rs. 71 billion, and over Rs. 80 billion at Group level including Mobitel.
About 5,000 Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) workers held a one-day national strike recenrly to oppose the privatisation of the state-owned enterprise and the associated attacks on working conditions and benefits.
About 2,000 strikers travelled from all parts of the country to demonstrate outside the corporation’s head office in Colombo.
The walkout reflects the rising working-class anger against the government’s International Monetary Fund (IMF)-dictated policies, which include the restructuring/privatisation of 430 (SOEs). The industrial action was called by the Telecom Trade Union Front (TTUF).
Demonstrating SLT workers carried placards that read, “Stop selling off profit-making institutes,” “Oppose the sale of Telecom, cuts to employees’ privileges and violations of employees’ rights,” “Unite against the looting of EPF-ETF [pension funds],” “Save Telecom from tyrannical rulers,” and “Privatisation is fraudulent and unsuccessful.”
Workers shouted slogans and marched around the SLT head office—along Duke Street, Bristol Street and then Lotus Road. Police attempted to stop workers in Duke Street, claiming that they had a court order banning the march.