NAME-OF-THE-ORGANISATION-–-Ceylon-Bank-Employees-Union-–-Sri-Lanka by asafwewe


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									NAME OF THE ORGANISATION – Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union – Sri Lanka

PROJECT TITLE - organising the informal sector agriculture workers with new
trade union strategies


STARTING DATE          -   15 March 2002


PREPARATION DATE - 30 January 2002 ( 1st draft )

AUTHOR        - R M L Rathnayake ( Executive Committee member – CBEU )


The Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union maintains a unique position in the banking
industry of Sri Lanka, as the only representative & effective trade union of bank
employees in state & private banks. It has achieved this position because of its policy
of maintaining its independence on a democratic basis, free from outside control and
its effectiveness in taking trade union action in accordance with democratic decision
of its membership. The CBEU was formed in 1943 and presently has a membership of
23000, where 17000 are from state sector & 6000 from the private banks.


At present, the world bank & IMF, with the blessings of governments, are carrying
out the following ( anti ) development strategies.

 Compelling the rice producing farmers to stop same & to switch over to the
  cultivation of export crops like babycorn & melon. The government has already
  privatised two major paddy seed producing farms.
 The government is planing to impose a water tax on farmers. At present the
  farmers have become indebted to formal & informal lenders, since they cannot get
  a fair price for their produce, where the market is being flooded with the imported
  goods, at the very time they happen to reap their harvest.

The government is planning to cut down all hitherto given welfare benefits( free
education, health facilities ,pension schemes & free advisory services given to farmers
by agriculture department).Privatising the two state sector banks ( which render a
valuable service to the rural poor) is also, a main item indicated in the agenda of the
world bank, not to mention the other important public service organisations like
electricity,water,railway & the postal service.

 Since the 80% of the population of Sri Lanka belong to the rural agriculture sector,
organising the informal sector means the organisation of these farmers. Since Sri
Lanka is an agricultural country, it has to plan its development strategy by developing
the farming sector. Since the country possesses a heavy force of labour, the adoption
of labour intensive methods of development, is suitable with the limited mixture of
capital. The technology too should be an intermediary model since sophisticated
models followed by developed countries are incompatible with the local environment.
In the recent past so many farmers committed suicide without being able to repay the
loans they have taken in order to purchase the costly agro inputs & equipment sold by
few big multinationals. On the other hand, their produce is purchased by intermediary
businessmen for rock bottom prices, & these middlemen earn a huge profit by
transporting same to urban centres, selling it there for a higher price. Sri Lanka is a
country which badly needs an agricultural surplus( production ) since it cannot afford
to import rice from abroad for local consumption .At present also, the country is faced
with a big balance of payment problem. Therefore, what is necessary at present is not
to follow the WB/ IMF advice based on monetary speculations, but to increase the
GDP at a rapid pace by developing the agriculture.

Since no political party in Sri Lanka, is candidly interested in uplifting the living
standards of the aforesaid working people of formal & informal sectors, the CBEU
intends to take the initiative in doing so through this project.


The unorganised agriculture workers who live in a district called Anuradhapura,
situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.


To systematically organise the farmers’ associations in the area. These small
associations are presently playing an insignificant role of a welfare society. Since the
culture of the farming community is drastically different from the trade union culture,
farmers cannot be absorbed in to the trade union movement in an ad hoc manner. But
by establishing a close relationship with these associations through community
support, we can organise them. Since they too happen to discuss with the govt:
officers, their grievances ( over the supply of water & paddy seeds to their fields ), we
can teach them how to bargain effectively, at such instances.


Prevention of the imposition of water tax, stopping the privatisation of the posphate
reserve ( used for the production of fertilizer ) located in this area. Continuance of the
paddy cultivation & the upliftment of the living standards of the farmers.


To train 30 trade union activists from CBEU as specialists on new technology,ILS &
their practical application, to involve in this project. The support of Friedrich Ebert
Stiftung & American Solidarity Centre, Colombo will too be obtained for this

To start a concessionary loan scheme of providing cows & goats to farming families
in that area, will be adopted, along with the following activities.

Organisation of frequent health camps in the area in consultation with doctors’ &
nurses’ unions, for peasant families. Finding a proper market for farmers to sell their
produce direct to consumers by removing the middlemen who exploit them.

The purchase of a 5 acre land in the same area & to start farming by employing the
landless farmers in it. A community service centre will be constructed in order to
make the farmers knowledgeable about ILS on occupational hazards & agriculture.
The computer classes & English education could be conducted in this centre for the
children of the farmers A public library also will be opened in the centre.

Helping the village school by construction of new buildings, repairing the old ones,
granting of books & offering scholarships for clever students.

Since the dry zone has a large number of tanks ( built in the times of ancient kings but
dilapidated now), these lakes should be renovated, enabling farmers to cultivate their
crops, all times in the year by retaining the rain water. For this purpose, the assistance
of the Engineers’ Union will be obtained. Provision of special training to leaders of
the farmers’ associations to promote their skills in collective bargaining.


An advisory committee of 10 activists of CBEU, will be appointed at the
commencement of the project to look in to the above process, on a continuous basis.
Preparation of work plans, monthly progress review reports and final self-evaluation
report will be the responsibility of this committee.


Estimated cost of the initial training of 30 activists = Rs 100,000/-.
Estimated cost of purchasing 5 acre land & its development = Rs 10,000,00/-

Estimated cost of providing concessionary loans to 100 animal farming families in
the village to purchase cows & goats = Rs 10,000,00/-


In the event of the completion of developing the above village, its inhabitants & the
farm, during the 1 year period of this project, it would provide impetus to select
another village & to spread this concept throughout the country.
Since the majority of our members too will have been educated about this endeavour
by that time, their active involvement in developing the villages means, an increase in
the GDP & establishment of a better communion between village & the town.
On the other hand, the public image of the CBEU will be boosted where its voice on
any issue will be revered by the majority of citizens.


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