The Sri Lankan government on Monday issued emergency regulations declaring oil, electricity, harbour and water resources essential services ahead of a “work-to-rule” call by some of the trade unions.

Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Minister of Ports and Aviation Chamal Rajapaksa told a news conference here that the campaign by several Trade Unions of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, Water Board and Ports Authority has ended following talks.

The Minister is one of the brothers of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He said the trade unions of the Sri Lanka Ports authority have agreed to withdraw the campaign after the Government announced a pay hike. According to him the port workers will receive Sri Lanka Rs. 1,000 in addition to their basic salary while a further Rs. 2,000 will also be given as an allowance.

Ports Minister Dilan Perera noted that some of the trade unions were politically motivated and working to undermine the credibility of the government.

The Singapore-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a statement here said the new emergency regulations of Colombo will virtually make the Executive President supreme and displace the power of the parliament and of the courts.

Calling upon the government to desist from use of the regulations the AHRC said, “There is a new visible resurgence of the opposition which has declared its intention that the retired general may be the presidential candidate for the opposition if there is an announcement of a presidential election. Fears have been expressed that the government may utilise the declaration of emergency regulations in order to suppress the opposition”.

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