Sri Lanka - Telecoms union leader abducted to force him to abandon strike

On 29 January 2017 Mr Sujeewa Mangala, vice president of the All-Ceylon Telecommunication Employees Union (ACTU), was forcefully abducted by armed men, held captive, threatened, and told to abandon an ongoing strike organised by temporary workers at Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), in which Mangala has played a leading role.

Mangala was released, blindfolded, and dumped by the roadside, three days later on 1 February, in Ingiriya, 60 kilometres from Colombo. The ACTU complained that the police had been sluggish and far from thorough in their search for Mr Mangala and that when his son went to inquire at the police station, instead of offering help the police asked the young boy whether his father was «in hiding to get publicity for the struggle».

Some 2,100 of approximately 8,000 workers at SLT are classified as “temporary”, even though many have worked at SLT for more than a decade. The «temporary» workers are employed through SLT Human Capital Solutions, a manpower company that is itself a wholly owned subsidiary of SLT; these workers receive lower pay and conditions than permanent workers. The company had ignored recommendations made by the Minister of Labour in July 2016 that the temporary workers should be made permanent. The strike that Mr Managala was threatened over had begun on 26 December 2016, and was aimed at demanding permanent status.

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