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Strike Ends, Electricity Restored In Sri Lanka

Sun., June 2, 1996, midnight

State power workers ended their four-day strike Saturday after the government threatened to fire them and seize their property.

Electricity was gradually restored to more than half of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, and to several southern and central towns. Military engineers, assisted by 700 workers rounded up by police, already had restored nearly half of the country’s power generation capacity.

“We will go back to work and negotiate our demands with the government,” said W. Lenti, president of the umbrella group of 18 unions at the Ceylon Electricity Board Workers.

But other union leaders who remained in hiding urged the strikers not to resume work even at gunpoint. The 14,000 strikers are supposed to return to work Monday.

On Friday, President Chandrika Kumaratunga vowed to do everything “short of killing people” to end the strike.

The workers sought wage increases of 40 percent and a halt to the proposed privatization of another state-owned power utility, Lanka Electricity Co. Ltd.

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