The Government will on principle be committed to ensure dynamic employment and decent work for the working class as envisaged under Item 8 of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Transforming he said speaking at the SLFP- UPFA May Day Rally at the Samanala Grounds, Galle. The May Day rally held with the participation of massive crowds thronging from all over the country was followed by the meeting held under the patronage of President Sirisena.
The President said that according to Police reports, out of all May Day rallies held island wide, the Galle rally and meeting had attracted the largest crowd. He described the rally as a boost for the SLFP and the UPFA. The heavy rain did not deter the large crowds that participated in the rally with great enthusiasm.
President Sirisena further said that the United Nations on its agenda for sustainable development has emphatically reiterated their special focus on the advancement of the working class in the section of Decent Work and Economic Growth. In that respect, they have resolved to ensure decent work for all workers. By decent work they mean obtaining work under justified and fair working conditions securing due rights and privileges of the working class.
“Hence as a pro- working class government I am pleased to pledge as a May Day resolution of the government, that we would resolve to foster our working class on par with the UN agenda for sustainable development. Not only for the working class, our government is further determined to guarantee the rights and privileges of common masses in obtaining their valued contribution towards sustainable development,’ President Sirisena said.
He said that the worker as defined during 18th, 19th and first half of 20th centuries are quite different from the worker of today. In that era, a Marxist was described as a blue collar worker. However, with the advancement of technologies and vast social changes, the present day worker is not merely a manual labourer. Today, the working class includes a large number other professional teachers, office workers and even the farming community. As such, in handling issues pertaining to the working class, we have to work with a broader perspective, he added.
“We have to build a morally upright and united country. People of all faiths and nationalities have to unite and work in harmony for the the country’s progress. Hence, I sincerely invite all to join hands with the government to build a prosperous country. Any type of division is not acceptable or advantageous for the country. We have to take the country forward. The nation has to settle a huge foreign debt amounting over Rs. 850,000 billion. Absolute financial loss in SriLankan Airlines is estimated at over Rs.85,000 billion. All these are severe national issues, the President pointed out.
The President pointed out that during the short period in power, the government succeeded in rectifying a number of issues affecting the country’s working class. Owing to the government’s correct foreign policy, we were could win the faith and trust of the international community and consequently secure a number of advantageous privileges to our working class. Through proper management and consultation with the European Union, they assured the withdrawal of the ban on Fish Export to Europe. The gazette with effect to the issue will be published, he said.
President Sirisena further said that by practicing a proper foreign policy, we have gained many other benefits and privileges for the working class. In no time, we will get back the GSP plus concession. In the future, we will be able to win many more rewards and benefits for the working class by following the correct policies with regard to national and international issues.
“We need advanced technology and financial support from the international community in our forward march for development. For the first time in the history a Sri Lankan head of government has been invited to the G7 Summit scheduled to be held in the near future. During a short period, we have been able to restore a number of democratic rights and privileges which the people were deprived of with the introduction of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
Text of the President’s full speech at the UPFA May Day rally in Galle on May, 1, 2016:
I am pleased to have an opportunity to hold this historic public gathering of the United Freedom People’s Alliance (UPFA), led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in Galle on 1st May 2016. Mr. Shan Wijelal, Mr. Chandima Weerakkody and the General Secretary of the UPFA Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera and the leaders of the Alliance extended an immense support to make this May Day rally successful.
According to the police reports, this is the May Day rally, which is participated by the largest number of people, out of 49 May Day rallies, being held island wide. We offer respectful thanks to the political parties, trade unions and the members of other sectors who supported to make this rally a great success.
We have to think of the message we are giving to the country with this May Day rally. Our brethren parties have got together with us under the leadership of the SLFP accepting the political philosophy of social democratic politics introduced by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. The history of the SLFP goes back to 65 years. We have faced foreign invasions and, therefore, we know the repercussions of the colonialism. Colonialism and imperialism are completely opposed to the policy of the SLFP. Within the country, we are taking steps to develop the nation and at the same time, we take steps to take the country forward internationally in accordance with the United Nation’s Charter.
When we speak about the May Day, the United Nation’s Organization issued a declaration on sustainable development, to which International Labour Organization has supported . The 8th proposal of that declaration clearly underlines that all the countries in the world should recognize the concept of decent labour. Sri Lanka accepts that concept. It clearly states that the principles of decent work should govern the utilization of the labour of the working people. It means that the utilization of the labour of the people should not be done in an unfair manner. We expect to work in accordance with the concept of decent work in our state policy.
The union leader, comrade Lesley Devendra presented a multitude of issues pertaining to the working people. Five proposals which are important to UPFA locally and internationally were adopted on this stage. I, as the President of the SLFP and the President of this country honorably accept all those proposals, as well as the ideas presented by comrade Lesley Devendra.
The person who provides his labour to the country was called a labourer in the 18th century. But that definition of the word labourer has undergone transformation due to the new technology and the political transformations since then. In that ancient era, the ‘labourer’ was the person who sheds sweat. That included the people who worked at roads, fields and in the plantation sector, suffering in the heat due to sun and getting wet in the rains. But in the society which has been changed with new technology, the ‘labourer’ means everybody including the people working in offices. When we take as a country, the working people means those who work in every sector. The people who earn foreign currency abroad are also labourers. Everybody in offices and factories are considered as working people.
It is a main responsibility of a government to ensure the rights and privileges of the working people are upheld and protected. That is the policy of the SLFP. Therefore, we definitely act in accordance with that conviction. We succeed in solving most issues that affected the working people during the last year. You know that European Union stopped importing our fish years ago and that was the first step of the economic sanctions against us. The GSP Plus relief was removed for the apparel industry and other industries. We were able to remove the ban for fish sale in the European Union. The gazette notification of the European Union lifting the fish import ban will be issued tonight. We are getting positive reports that we are getting the GSP relief from international organizations and the European Union within next few weeks.
Therefore, we, as a country has taken steps to develop indigenous economy and utilize those concessions, and with the international support to become a strong nation, with a solid economy. We need new technology. We need development assistance and encouragement. Today all countries in the world help us without any difference. The G -7 summit will be held in Japan in two weeks. This is the first time a Sri Lanka leader has been invited to that important summit. I believe we will be able to get an immense support from G 7 group to build the economy of our country.
We should eliminate poverty from the country and achieve economic prosperity. For that purpose, the Government will take every possible step to uplift the living standard of the people. To achieve above mentioned target as an Unity-Government, the SLFP in collaboration with other friendly political parties will constantly commit ourselves to the task of providing a better future for the people, as well as to protect the rights of the working people and ensuring their privileges.
It is our duty and responsibility to strengthen the freedom and democracy in the country. These are the right people in the country are entitled. We fulfilled that responsibility by adopting the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. We need the commitment of all of us to build a better country. Irrespective of all differences of religion, language or ethnicity, we should unite for this goal. I extend an open invitation to all leaders of different political parties, members of trade unions and to all those who wish a better future for the citizens to join hands, irrespective of party differences to build this country.
We cannot build a country by making a division among us. At present, what we should do is to unite in harmony. We have numerous challenges ahead of us. Right now, the total outstanding government debt is Rs 8,500,000 million. The loss incurred by the SriLankan Airlines And Mihin Air during 2010 and 2015 amount to Rs 85,000 million. To deliver a prosperous economy for the masses while facing these kind of enormous challenges, all of us should unite in brotherhood for the sake of the country and with the feeling that this is our country, our motherland and our people.
Over the past 26 years we faced a brutal war. The Northern Province, in the decades of 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s also raised their voices for the federalism. We should pay our attention not for these voices of federalism, but for the root causes that lead to raise their voice for the concept of federalism. We should find the causes for the occurrence of the war. It is the responsibility of all of us to take forward the country while providing solutions for all these issues. Let’s unite to build a positive country with economic prosperity where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus and Islamists live in harmony, with a strong national reconciliation process while ensuring democracy and freedom.
Today, you have made a great commitment to deliver that message to the country. To make this May Day rally a successful one, our leaders in the Galle district, including the all SLFP MPs, Provincial Councilors and Local Government Ministers and organizers made a tremendous commitment. The leaders of the SLFP trade unions, including Mr. Lesley Devendra and Mr. Ranjith Hettiarachchi also made a great commitment and a contribution.
Our coalition, the friendly parties in the United People’s Freedom Alliance gave a massive support in organizing this rally. A number of organizations which have not worked with us during the past, have also joined with us today. I respectfully welcome them.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to all the people who made sacrifices to make this May Day rally a success amidst facing heavy rains. Today, the people who participate in this rally made a contribution to the task of creating a clean political journey within the country.
The SLFP should be built up as a clean political party to form a Government in the future. The Party should be strong through its qualitative values. When we manage a political party it should managed in a way which is democratic and people centric. The most inspirational, democratic political leaders in the world have etched an indelible mark in their names as a result of their clean political activities.
In the past, prominent leaders such as Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao Tse-tung, set examples on the human society as how to create a disciplined, better political movements. In the recent history, leaders like Abraham Lincoln in the USA, Mahatma Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa and S W R D Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka showed the path for a disciplined, clean politics.
A political leader should display a greater sense to eliminate fraud and corruption and to indulge in politics with a great commitment. Only by creating a disciplined, better and people centric political movement, we make this country a better one and could be able to form a good government. It is a truth that all of us agreed on.
The SLFP was defeated in two national elections held last year. But I believe this May Day rally laid the basic foundation to build the SLFP as a disciplined, better and more people centric political movement. At this moment, I would like to emphasize that henceforth we will move forward swiftly to make this a strong party.
As a servant of the people, I am ready to make any sacrifice to safeguard the Motherland and to build this country a better disciplined one. Today, I will give my pledge that SLFP led UPFA will fulfill their duties and responsibilities without any fear to make Sri Lanka an exemplary nation to the world.
I wish you all success.
May our great Motherland be victorious!
Victory to the working people!