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Last updated: 17 March, 2008 - Published 13:16 GMT
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'No union action' on SLRC
Five SLRC workers were assaulted since Minister Silva stormed the station
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) workers have decided not to take any inductrial action after President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to their demands on Monday.

Chairman of SLRC producers union, Kanchana Marasinghe, told BBC Sandeshaya that the president agreed to their demands apart from sacking minister Mervyn Silva.

The minister was called upon by the president as the meeting progressed, Mr. Marasinghe said, adding that the union leaders did not strongly pursue the sacking of the minister as he categorically denied the accusations of involved in assaulting journalists.

Mr. Marasinghe earlier warned of strong island-wide action if the government failed to fulfil their demands.

Sacking minister Silva

In an interview with BBC Sandeshaya after the meeting, minister Silva said he was the victim and not the culprit as he was the person assaulted by SLRC workers on 27 December.

He categorically denied accusations that he came to the SLRC on that day accompanied by thugs and drug dealers.

"I only came with the ministerial security personnel," Minister Mervyn Silva told BBC

Minister Mervyn Silva
Union leaders say they did not insist on sacking Minister Silva

Asked whether he would pardon those assaulted him, he said he did not know who exactly assaulted him.

"As a Buddhist I do bless everybody and I do not have time to watch those video tapes of the assault," he said when asked about police investigators taking video footages of the incident.

The union leaders met the president in an attempt to resolve the crisis over continuous attacks on SLRC workers.

The meeting is held after SLRC workers are prevented from entering the SLRC and only a few workers selected by the authorities were allowed to work on Monday.

All roads closed

Armed military personnel and riot police were called in to provide security and prevent other workers entering the station, BBC's Elmo Fernando told BBC Sinhala Service.

He added all the roads leading to the station was closed by the military.

Anurasiri Hettige in the hospital
Mr. Hettige was the latest SLRC worker to be assaulted

The trade union alliance of the SLRC says the authorities have decided to stop workers entering into the SLRC after they decided to take industrial action against constant attacks against their workers.

Five SLRC workers were assaulted during the last few weeks, some sustaining serious injuries, after they assaulted a controversial minister who stormed the SLRC premises on 27 December.

A leading union activist Herbert Kumara Alagiyawanna told BBC that all workers protested the government's inaction over assaults on journalists.

Journalists 'live in fear'

The government should have used the police and the military to stop attacks on journalists than to intimidate media workers, Mr. Marasinghe told the BBC Sandeshaya before the meeting.

A protest against Minister Silva
Journalists have continuosly protested threats by Minister Silva

The union activists are demanding the removal of Minister Mervyn Silva and a guarantee that the all SLRC workers are protected from future attacks in their meeting with the president, he said.

He warned that the unions would launch an islandwide action if the authorities fail to take concrete action.

Five media organisations have accused the supporters of Labour Minister Silva of assaulting the journalists who protested minister's supporters allegedly assaulting SLRC news director.

The organisations also accused President Rajapaksa and the government of not taking efficient actions to bring the perpetrators into justice.

Assaults on SLRC employees continue
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27 January, 2008 | Sandeshaya
Journalist stabbing condemned
26 January, 2008 | Sandeshaya
Journalist union leader threatened
07 January, 2008 | Sandeshaya
Govt. 'trying to punish' journalists
28 December, 2007 | Sandeshaya
Eyewitness on assault on journalists
28 December, 2007 | Sandeshaya
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