Sri Lankan state workers strike, protesting high taxes

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan health, railway, port and other state workers were on a daylong strike Wednesday, March 15, 2023, to protest against sharp increases in income taxes and electricity charges, as the island nation awaits approval of an International Monetary Fund package to aid its bankrupt economy.

Most government hospitals around the country suspended their outpatient clinics because doctors, nurses and pharmacists were on strike. The railways operated fewer trains and armed soldiers guarded carriages and train stations fearing sabotage.

Trade unions say the increase in taxes and electricity charges have hit them hard amid difficulties from the country’s worst economic crisis. They have threatened to extend the strike indefinitely if the government fails to address their demands.

The government says it was compelled to raise taxes to strengthen state revenue and electricity charges to cover production costs, key prerequisites to unlocking the proposed $2.9 billion IMF package. Authorities say they managed to operate some trains and most state banks despite the strike. / AP