The popular uprising of workers, youth and rural workers in Sri Lanka against the Rajapakse government over unbearable conditions – including shortages, daily power cuts and soaring prices of basic necessities – is now reaching a new stage .
High food prices lead to mass starvation conditions. The Rajapakse-Wickremesinghe government has placed the country on virtual lockdown as fuel has run out. Schools have been closed and public sector institutions have been instructed to call only “essential staff” for work. The lack of fuel led to the collapse of public transport. These conditions brought popular anger against the government to a boiling point.
Under these conditions, social media activists leading the protest at Galle Face Green in Colombo, also known as “Gota Gogama”, have announced a “massive popular protest” for July 9, saying it will would act as the “largest uprising in Sri Lankan history. This date will mark three months since the start of the protest at Galle Face Green.
However, the “Action Plan for the Future of the Struggle”, published by the protest leaders on July 5, does not set out any program to solve the burning problems facing the masses. On the contrary, it would lock workers, youth and rural workers into the bourgeois regime and the capitalist profit system, which is the root cause of the crisis.
Their program calls for an “interim government”, i.e. an alternative bourgeois government, which has been promoted by opposition parties in parliament, including the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). ), supported by pseudo-left groups like the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP). A leading protest organizer, Anuruddha Bandara, said Economynext that the opposition parties – the SJB, the JVP and others – are “almost on board”.
The main principles of the action plan include calling for the resignation of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Cabinet of Ministers and all government appointees in high positions. Their alternative is an “Interim Governance” but without indication as to who will compose this regime. It is implicit, however, that all parliamentary political parties must be included in this caretaker government, as proposed by the opposition parties themselves.
This “Interim Governance” is supposed to subscribe to the “economic, social and political aims and aspirations of the popular struggle”. Although they have included securing the supply of essentials, such as fuel and food, in their long list of “goals and aspirations”, they have not put forward any concrete program on how to achieve them. provide. They simply hope that the “interim governance” will provide them if they are forced to do so.
A “People’s Council” is also proposed, within which representatives of the “People’s Struggle” will be able to “engage effectively and serve as mediator with the Interim Governance”. That is to say, the task of the “People’s Council” will be to put pressure on the new government. It is the same program advocated by the pseudo-left FSP. The action plan proposes within a year to establish a new constitution by referendum, which would “abolish the executive presidency” and create “a proper process for a fair election”.
In opposition to the program of the protest leaders of Galle Face for the formation of an alternative bourgeois government, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) advocates a revolutionary socialist program for the working class. We call for the independent mobilization of the working class on a clear program of action to meet their basic needs against the Rajapakse government and the bourgeois regime.
The SEP insists that there will be no solution to the burning problems facing the masses within the bourgeois regime and the capitalist profit system. There is no national solution. No pressure exerted on this government or any future bourgeois government will compel the ruling class to provide for the basic needs of the masses.
While supporting the main demand of the struggling masses for the resignation of President Rajapakse and his government, the SEP insists that it should not be replaced by another bourgeois government, but by a government of workers and peasants engaged in socialist policies.
As explained in our statement issued on April 7, at the very beginning of the mass uprising and also reiterated in subsequent statements, the SEP calls for the immediate abolition of the autocratic executive presidency as well as repressive laws such as the Services Act Essentially, the Public Security Act Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which confer police state powers on the security forces. Over the past month, Rajapakse has invoked essential services laws against electricity and health workers. He has used his emergency powers to deploy the military to the streets to quell workers who languish in queues for days for fuel.
Whatever bourgeois government might replace the Rajapakse-Wickremesinghe regime will pursue the same harsh austerity measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It will seek to force workers and rural workers to bear the full burden of the economic crisis.
All opposition parties, including the SJB, JVP and Tamil National Alliance, have expressed overt or tacit support for IMF policies. Therefore, the so-called interim governance proposed in the Action Plan will become an instrument of the capitalist ruling elite to brutally implement these policies and crush all opposition from the working class and rural workers.
The brutality of the IMF program was indicated in Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s speech to parliament on Tuesday. Referring to the coming period, which will be marked by the dictates of the IMF, he said: “It will be a difficult and bitter journey…if things don’t change, the whole country will crumble.”
The “changes” include the massive downsizing of the public sector, the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the broadening of the tax base with an increase in taxes. They will result in cuts to jobs, wages and other benefits for public sector workers, increases in water and electricity prices and further cuts in subsidies.
The working class must reject this brutal class war policy and all the trappings of the interim government. Workers must develop their own independent political intervention based on a program that meets their needs and unleashes immense social power, which was demonstrated in the general strikes of April 28, May 6 and May 10. This program must be based on the social needs of workers and rural workers, not the profit demands of big business.
The first step in the struggle for this program is to form democratically elected independent action committees of the working class in factories, workplaces, plantations and working-class neighborhoods across the country. Action committees must be independent of capitalist parties and trade unions, which act as stooges and apologists for the ruling capitalist establishment.
The PES encourages and will help workers to form these action committees, which will advance a workers’ solution to the socio-economic crisis created by the capitalist class. The struggle of the working class must be integrated at the international level through the International Alliance of Workers of the Base Committees, initiated by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
The PES advances the following demands as a combat program of the Action Committees to overcome the mass suffering created by capitalism:
* For workers’ democratic control over the production and distribution of all essentials and other resources essential to people’s lives! Nationalize the banks, the big companies, the plantations and other big economic nerve centers!
* Repudiate all external debts! No to the austerity demands of the IMF and the World Bank which represent the bankers and the international financial institutions!
* Establish a state monopoly of foreign trade to eradicate corruption in export and import processes and also ensure the supply of all essential products!
* Seize the colossal wealth of billionaires and corporations!
* Cancel all debts of poor and marginal farmers and small business owners! Restore all subsidies, including fertilizer subsidies for farmers!
* Guarantee jobs for all with decent and safe working conditions! Index wages to the cost of living!
An independent movement of the working class organized by action committees based on the above demands will rally the rural poor and other oppressed masses. It will create the basis for a mass movement aimed at establishing a government of workers and peasants committed to socialist policies.
The struggle for this program is part of a larger struggle for socialism in South Asia and internationally, which must be waged through a united movement of the working class on a global scale.
The potential of such an independent working class movement was clearly demonstrated in the powerful intervention of the working class in the popular uprising in Sri Lanka. This includes the massive general strikes of April 28, May 6 and May 10, in which millions took part.
The workers’ struggle in Sri Lanka is part of a working class uprising around the world. The international airline industry has been hit by strikes in recent weeks, following the strike of 50,000 stricken British railway workers. From Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the United States, educators, auto workers, transport workers, health care workers and all sections of the working class are coming into fight against soaring prices, exploitation and inequality.
We urge workers and youth to join the SEP and take up this struggle for a socialist program and perspective.