Sri Lanka’s CEB engineers on ‘work to rule’ campaign against New Fortress LNG deal

ECONOMYNEXT – The engineers union of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has gone for a ‘work to rule’ campaign, protesting a controversial agreement to sell 40 percent of the government’s shares of the Yugadanavi power plant to a US company.

The US based New Fortress Energy (NFE) signed a framework agreement with Sri Lanka’s finance ministry to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on July 14, which opponents say will give the company a monopoly in the supply of LNG to the island.

Related: Sri Lanka’s could lose billions through unsolicited New Fortress Energy deal: CEBEU

As part of the agreement, the government will facilitate the obtaining of necessary permits and entitlements by New Fortress to construct the LNG terminal. The terminal is expected to begin operations by the second half of 2022.

The terminal will be located off the coast of Colombo to supply gas to the country’s power plants, primarily located in the Kerawalapitiya power complex.

Protesting against the agreement, the CEB engineers launched their work to rule campaign at 12pm on Thursday (25).

Union chief Saumya Kumarawadu said if the issue is not taken into consideration, the union will go for a continuous strike in the future.

“We revealed that this is not only about selling 40 percent of shares for 250 million US dollars. The deal is different. It is about more money than in the agreement,” Kumarawadu told reporters on Thursday (25).

“Their intention is not to supply LNG only to Yugadanavi. Their intention is to be the sole provider of LNG to the Kerawalpitiya power plant as well as all the future power plants in the country.”

Kumarawadu said the agreement is being taken forward while other two international tenders are still under discussion.

“New Fortress Energy doesn’t even have the minimum qualifications to respond to our tender,” Kumarawdu said.

“The finance ministry appointed a committee regarding this deal. It is not a committee that was legally appointed. It has now come to a level of suspending and transferring of loyal engineers who speak against this,” the engineer claimed.

With the work to rule action in place, he said, the general public may experience electricity breakdowns, adding that a full blown strike may be launched if no solution is provided. (Colombo/Nov15/2021)

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