Trade unions warned against attending political events

Trade unions have been warned against attending political events during the election period.

The National Election Commission noted the need for the public officers with or without political rights to abstain from attending workshops, discussions, get-togethers, receptions of political nature organlzed during the election period.

The Commission noted that it has been observed that political parties and groups of candidates have by now paced up and intensified their election campaigns for the Parliamentary election scheduled on 2020.08.05.

The  Election Commission is in the receipt of complaints alleging that public officers with political rights and the staff officers without such rights have in their capacity as trade union leaders or members attended receptions and programmes organized in the disguise of meetings or trade union meetings by candidates contesting the election at their residences / reception halls.

Investigations are underway into the complaints alleging that staff officers and non-staff officers particularly in the fields of Education, Health, Agriculture and Mahaweli, Industry and Construction, Samurdhi and Social Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government have attended such programmes.

The Commission said that front line activists and members of trade unions comprising stall officers without political rights should ensure that they do not attend such receptions/meetings and the Election Commission opines that it is appropriate for the trade unions of public officers with political rights to follow suit.

In addition, complaints alleging that trade unions of staff officers without political rights have engaged in election propaganda activities having invited politicians with no interest whatsoever in the profession the trade union represents, to workshops, discussions, get-togethers, receptions organized by such trade unions or groups of such trade union members during the election period.

The Election Commission emphasized the need for all public sector trade union activists to abstain from engaging in such actions leading to complaints i.e. to abstain from inviting politicians for such of events.

The Election Commission also emphasized that all in the public service irrespective of whether they have political rights or not should distance themselves from political engagements and that trade unions of public officers should abstain from directly engaging in political activities during the election period in order to uphold their trade independence. (Colombo Gazette)