Trade Unions steal the limelight at National Integrity Award

Trade Unions steal the limelight at National Integrity Award

A senior trade union leader and an influential trade union gained recognition at this year’s presentation of the National Integrity Award (NIA) of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). Both won Special Mentions. The union leader was Saman Ratnapriya and the union was the Rakshana Sewaka Sangamaya of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.

They received the awards from the world renowned Justice C.G.Weeramantry at the presentation ceremony held at the BMICH on 9 December – UN Anti-Corruption Day. A full house in Committee Room B, including politicians, diplomats and professionals watched the presentation.

The two Special Mention winners exemplify in every way their courage and he determination exposing corruption at great personal risk.

This was the tenth successive year that the NIA presentation was held. Since its launched in 2004, awards were won by journalists, union activists, government officials and civil society leader who had, all fought against corruption.

Saman Ratnapriya is an active trade unionist and is the president of the ‘Rajaye Heda Sangamaya’ and the Health Services Trade Union Coalition. He has been unearthing corrupt activities and malpractices in the Health Sector as well as others. He started his trade union activities in 1969 and formed the Health Services TU Coalition in 2003.

Over the years he has exposed corruption in the purchase of drugs without proper tender procedures, use of drugs with foreign matter, low quality drugs and other malpractices.

For the first time, an Advisory Committee has been appointed in the Health Ministry following representations by the TU Coalition led by Ratnapriya. The Coalition also succeeded in getting the Director General of Health Services removed in 2010 after the constant exposure of large scale frauds on the import of drugs. Ratnapriya took the lead role in this campaign.

He has also exposed malpractices in the CEB, Petroleum Corporation and Gem & Jewelry Training Institute. He was responsible in getting the court order for the suspension of milk foods with dangerous chemicals.

In 2002, Rakshana Sewaka Sangamaya (RSS) was one of ten trade unions in the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation ion functioning as a small union with just 39 members (1%). Most unions existed only in name due to the stern anti-union attitude of the management at the time. Though the unions went underground, some were acting secretly against corruption and mismanagement.

While the major unions were inactive, RSS was bold enough to expose and demand a change in the management. Since they could not function within the Corporation premises, they moved out and operated in a small office forming a wide network throughout the island and exposing the Corporation’s malpractices through the media. They also took steps to keep the President and high officials informed of the malpractices.

The union highlighted the fact that although the estimated value of the Corporation was in the region of Rs 60,000 million, it had been sold for 10,500 million.

Judicial action was also instituted to change the management of the Corporation, Member of Parliament, Vasudeva Nanayakkara too moved a petition in the Supreme Court.

While this action resulted in a victory for those who agitated for a change in management, RSS continued its campaign against corruption and mismanagement in the Corporation under the new management too. This has resulted in the union being sidetracked by the present management. It is not being recognized and has not been given space for an office. However, RSS continues its struggle.

Share the Post


No comment yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *