International union urges EFC to resolve Mirrai issueView(s):
An international trade union body has urged the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) ‘to use its good offices’ to resolve a crisis at the Mirrai garment factory over alleged violation of freedom of association rules. Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of the IndustriALLGlobal Union, in a letter to EFC Director General Ravi Peiris on the issue, said the EFC should use international arbitration mechanisms to help resolve the issue as well as advice “Mirrai on implementing clear and transparent management systems and thus assist Mirrai in securing future orders”.
A previous letter by Mr Raini on non-conformation of workers’ rights at the factory which led to a US Retailer J. Crew pulling out its orders from Sri Lanka, was responded by Mr Peiris saying, among other things, that the J. Crew probe in Sri Lanka was biased.Mr Raina said the company has discriminated against union leaders through dismissal and transfers and through the creation of a climate of physical violence directed at union leaders. “The branch secretary was subjected to physical violence at the workplace and was threatened by two men on a motorbike in the street. The company’s HR manager shouted insults at her in front of the Commissioner of Labour (who ordered that he withdraw his words). She lost her job and when she demanded reinstatement the HR manager visited her parents and warned she would be in danger if she went back to work,” the letter said.
It said the referendum on bargaining rights at Mirrai was neither free nor fair. In the days leading up to the referendum, the company bribed and threatened workers not to vote in favour of the union. It said members of the (Mirrai) union were selected by management rather than being elected by the workforce, and many of them are the same anti-union workers who at the management’s behest have been physically attacking union leaders.
Referring to the EFC claim of bias in the J. Crewprobe, he said J Crew gave the company every opportunity to engage in discussions, which the latter failed to do so.
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