At least 50,000 workers have lost their jobs since January from factory and company closures plus retrenchment owing to the current economic crisis triggered by the global uncertainty.
Unofficial figures show that the layoffs have come from more than 30 companies in Colombo, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Kalutara, Gampaha Monaragala, Embilipitiya, Galle, Matale, Chilaw and Avissawella.
These companies have already informed the Labour Commissioner that they had no alternative other than to reduce staff to face the economic crisis, politicians and labour union leaders said.
UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera told The Sunday Times FT that 5,562 workers from 31 companies have been retrenched as the firms were facing difficulties.
The UNP-controlled Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (union) was trying to find some redress for these employees and prevent large-scale job losses as ‘no industry can run without the workers’, he added.
Wasantha Samarasinghe, President of the JVP-led Inter Company Employees Union said the garment and tourism industry were the worst affected. He disclosed that 50,000 workers have lost their jobs and out of the 832 factories set up in 2004, only 403 survive now.
Under the present labour legislation, employment can be terminated with little compensation. Dismissed workers receive only half-month’s salary per year of service, up to a maximum of 1 1/2 year’s salary. Previously, the Labour Commissioner determined the quantum of compensation with the employees’ consent. Some companies are retrenching workers under the Voluntary Resignation Scheme but no one is willing to vacate their jobs voluntarily, he said.
Director-General, Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Ravi Peiris said he is aware that several companies have resorted to cutting excess staff as they are facing economic problems while some are now retrenching staff. Although it may seem as an answer to cut down the expenditure of the company, it will only have a negative impact on the country in the long run.