The implementation of neo-liberal policies in Sri Lanka, which preceded Thatcherism in Britain and Reagonomics in the US, launched a decisive attack on unions and the labour movement. Neo-liberalism, as a political ideology, has no place for unions. The neo-liberal discourse of individualism is grounded in a rights-based minimal state where a notion of “self-regulating”, “self-expanding” market order characterises a “free society”. The UNP government’s policies (1977-94), which were similar to Thatcher’s policies (1979-92), represented an embodiment of Hayek’s anti-union perspective. Hayek, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1974, saw unions as “undesirable” legally privileged monopolists exacerbating labour costs and unemployment.