Ceylon Petroleum Corporation strike called off | Daily News

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation strike called off

The Petroleum Trade Unions called off the strike yesterday following discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Petroleum Resourecs Development Minister Chandima Weerakkody and Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama were also present at the discussion.

Minister Chandima Weerakkody told the Daily News that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe assured that the MOU signed between Sri Lanka and India on the Trincomalee Oil Tank farms would be limited only to a political agreement.

He added that the assurance was also given to the trade unions that when the government intends to enter into a legal agreement, at a later stage, it would be done following discussions with the trade unions.

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Trade Unions resorted to strike action on Monday over the alleged handing over of Oil Tank Farm in Trincomalle to India and several other issues. Fuel supplies to petrol stations around the country came to a halt as of yesterday (24). While the Trade Unions were engrossed in tense discussions with Minister Chandima Weerakkody and his officials in a bid to reach a speedy consensus over the issue. However,later they met with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe after which they decided to call off the strike.

CPC General Employees’ Union president Ranwala speaking to the Daily News after two hours of negotiations with Minister Weerakkody said that though there were certain agreements reached, there were no firm commitments. “We know that the Minister does not have the authority to agree on all this and that the Prime Minister can override him. So we have asked that he get us a meeting with the President so we can discuss matters directly with him,”the CPC General Employees Union president said.

The main points of contention between the unions and the government are; over the contract to modernise the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery where they have asked that the government consult with the union prior to engaging with any company, a decision on the China Bay Oil Tanks and whether they would be taken back from Lanka IOC and most importantly an assurance that the government would not sign an agreement with India over the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm.

Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman, Nadun Fernando when contacted said nothing was finalised as yet.

In 2003, the government signed a tripartite agreement to develop the oil tank farm with India. As per the lease agreement, the oil tank farm with 99 tanks was to be handed over to the LIOC for use for a period of 35 years. Accordingly, they started using 14 tanks in the lower farm area. The remaining 84 tanks in the upper tank area remain unused.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is set to visit India shortly is expected to discuss the probability of signing an MoU with India to develop the Trincomalee Port with major oil storage facilities. 

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