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Seventy workers of the Kolongaha Graphite Mine in Kahatagaha, Maduragoda commenced an underground strike yesterday, demanding solutions to their problems.

The strikers belonging to the SLFP union of the mine descended to 1,132 feet below ground around 7.30 am and informed authorities they would remain there until their demands were granted.

Secretary of the union, Prasanna Fernando told The Island that they had been demanding solutions to their problems since 2012 but in vain.

The strikers demand, among other things, that they be insured and confirmed in service; their working conditions be improved and they be given a salary increment.

"We are not ready for further talks and will give up our strike action only after our demands are granted," Fernando added.


Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce V. A. D. Lakshman Wasantha Perera, contacted for comment, said that he had contacted his minister, the Chairman of the Kahatagaha Lanka Graphite Ltd (KLGL), and the Secretary of the striking Union. "The strikers demand they be made permanent. They also demand insurance coverage and sacking of two officials who have been accused of frauds. We agree with the strikers that they should be insured given the fact that they work under hazardous conditions.

Graphite...

The Chairman of the KLGL told me that action had already been taken to grant them relief. I promised to forward their demand to the next Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Parliament next week. Even if the committee agrees then we will have to wait till the approval from the Ministry of Finance to grant their demands," the Deputy Minister said.
 

By W. A. Jayasekera, Dodamgaslanda Corr

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