US official here for talks on labour rights

Top US Trade official Michael J. Delaney is visiting Sri Lanka next week for continuing discussions on the labour rights petition against Sri Lanka, officials said.

Mr Delaney, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South Asia, is the first-high level US official to visit Colombo after the US resolution on Sri Lanka’s human rights situation was passed on Thursday at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

Palitha Athukorala, Progress Union President, said unions had been invited for a discussion with Mr Delaney on Wednesday at the US Embassy in Colombo. “We were informed of a meeting last week but later the visit was postponed maybe owing to the US resolution in Geneva, and to ascertain its outcome,” he said.

Mr Delaney, visiting Colombo for the second time this year with the first being two months ago, is also due to address a seminar at the March 28-31Sri Lanka EXPO 2012 trade fair.

The petition filed by an umbrella of US labour unions is challenging the Sri Lankan government’s failure to allow unions within the export processing zones and outside, among other issues. Hearing in the petition resumed in January, after a one-year break owing to a suspension of US GSP concessions to Sri Lanka and many other countries. The concessions were resumed in January this year.

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