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Last updated: 06 July, 2008 - Published 12:21 GMT
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UNP joins islandwide strike
Chief Opposition Whip, Joseph Michael Perera
This is the first time UNP joins a general strike since 1976
The main opposition in Sri Lanka has announced that party’s trade unions are joining the industrial action initially called by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

Trade unions not affiliated to government are to hold a islandwide strike on 10 July urging the authorities to take measures to reduce the impact of skyrocketing cost of living (CoL).

The United National Party (UNP) said although their demands differ from JVP’s, all UNP trade unions will join the strike on Thursday.

It is the first time the UNP joins a general strike since 1976.

Biggest trade union

Chief Opposition Whip and former speaker in the parliament, Joseph Michael Perera told journalists in Colombo on Sunday that they demand Rs. 7500 salary hike to face the increasing CoL.

JVP MP, Lal Kantha
JVP says the strike will be abandoned only if the demands are met

The JVP says the government should increase the salaries by Rs. 5000, reduce the number of cabinet ministers and presidential advisors, and implement the 17 amendment to the constitution, if the party to withdraw their decision to hold the strike.

Asked whether UNP will not join the strike if JVP demands are met, Johnston Fernando, MP, said the question would not arise as the government would not meet the demands.

UNP parliamentarian Ranjith Maddumabandara also attended the press briefing.

Budget vote

Claiming that the party is in charge of Sri Lanka’s biggest trade union movement, the UNP said war is not the main reason for many burning questions in Sri Lanka.

Only 20 percent of Sri Lanka's annual income is spent for the war, Joseph Michael Perera said.

Wrong economic management, corruption and heavy expenses to maintain the ‘mega cabinet’ are among the major reasons for Sri Lanka’s economic woos, according to the UNP.

The JVP that initially voted against President Rajapaksa’s budget proposals, abstained from voting at the last round in November, last year.

The UNP accused the JVP of paving the way for the government to claim victory.

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