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Govt. gives in; CPC strike ends, Oil supply to be restored soon

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unionists last night decided to call off their strike which had crippled fuel distribution throughout the country. Their decision to abandon trade union action came following an assurance given by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he would not enter into an agreement with India on the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm.

Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister, issued a letter that the Prime Minister had agreed to grant the three demands put forward by the warring unions.

The other demands are the renovation of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery and bringing Hambantota oil refinery under the CPC.

The CPC trade unions earlier insisted that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was planning to sign an agreement with India shortly during his visit to New Delhi to hand over the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm to Indian Oil Company.

Yesterday’s meeting with the Prime Minister and CPC trade union representatives at Temple Trees was also attended by Petroleum Resources Development Minister Chandima Weerakkody, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and Foreign Employment Minister Thalata Athukorala.

Meanwhile, the CPC trade unionists told the media last night that their strike had yielded the desired results and the government had given in.

CPC sources told The Island that most of the refilling stations had run out of fuel due to panic buying, but they were confident that supplies would be replenished soon. Thousands of people countrywide suffered yesterday owing to the CPC strike.

Most of the fuel refilling stations had closed by noon yesterday as they had out of stocks and long lines of people waiting outside the petrol sheds which had limited stocks were seen.

In some places police had been deployed to control agitated consumers.

According to consumers however the Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) sheds were better stocked with fuel brought from their tanks in Trincomalee.

Trade union representatives who participated in talks with Petroleum Resources Development Minister Weerakkody early yesterday said that the meeting had ended inconclusively. The union leaders had been told that President Maithripala Sirisena would intervene to solve the issue and, therefore, the strike should be suspended. They, however, said that the strike action would continue till they met the President and got a written assurance from him. The union leaders stayed in the ministry demanding that they be allowed to meet the President.

Later the Prime Minister invited them for talks at Temple Trees.

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