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15 Mär 2023


Sri Lanka: Trade unions protest high income taxes as a precondition for IMF bailout

"Strike grips Sri Lanka as unions protest IMF bailout"

Sri Lanka deployed armed troops as trade unions crippled hospitals, ports and banks Wednesday to protest against high income taxes imposed as a precondition for a crucial IMF bailout.

Schools cancelled term tests and outpatient departments at hospitals closed due to the work stoppage that involved more than 40 trade unions. Fewer vehicles were seen on roads.

Dockers at the main sea port in Colombo stayed away while air traffic controllers joined the combined industrial action to carry out "go slow" for two hours affecting at least 14 international flights.

"All considered, our work-to-rule was for two hours, but we will consider a full-blown strike if the government does not roll back the new tax rates," Rajitha Seneviratne, secretary of the air traffic controllers' association, told AFP.

Armed soldiers were deployed at railway stations as well as the port as the government attempted tried to restore minimum services. Dock workers had a tense standoff with the military inside the port, but there were no reports of clashes...

The strike came despite a ban imposed by Wickremesinghe last month, and warnings that violators could lose their jobs...

Unions say the strike duration will depend on the government's response to their demand to reverse the new taxes, which were among the measures taken to qualify for a $2.9 billion rescue package from the International Monetary Fund...