Labour Movement

The Young Lanka League began to fight the 2 rupees annual contribution enacted in 1891, requiring all adult men to work six days on the roads. A.E. Gunasinghe was a member of the league and took the leadership of the workers who work on the highways in Colombo.Realising the plight of the workers over a period of four years, he joined the Ceylon Labour Federation with the idea that some action should be taken. Since that organisation did not work for the welfare of the workers, the Ceylon Labour Union was established on September 10, 1922 under the chairmanship of Victor Corea, and its vice president was A. E. Gunasinghe.The Ceylon Labour Union and its leader A.E. Gunasinghe who worked with great commitment to protect and develop the economic, political, cultural and educational rights of urban and rural workers by leading the general strike in 1923. He was also the first Sri Lankan to dedicate his life full-time to trade union affairs.

He fought for the workers in the early 1920s and many people were attracted to the labour movement.  Testifying before the Donughmore Commission in 1927, he said, "The qualifications for voting rights have been set up in such a way that the working class of this island will lose it.... It is not surprising that the council has done nothing to protect the rights of the workers. The Ceylon Labour Union insists that universal adult suffrage should be given regardless of gender, race, religion or caste."

Kamkaru Handa, 1928, A.E. Gunasinghe and worker’s protests

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

Department of
National Archives
Sri Lanka

Last Modified: 2024-05-29 09:58:09~ Server Time: 2024-07-15 01:58:43