dispute drags on
By Lenin Amarawickrama
Is Bata, the multinational shoe manufacturer, going the way of other
MNCs like Reckitt & Colman or Liptons that have shifted or outsourced
production line with global trends?
fears have been entertained as a strike at Bata continues for the
second month in a dispute over retrenchment plans and the sacking
of a union leader. Trade unions say MNCs prefer to either import
from their plants in other countries or outsource production as
it eliminates labour unrest, payment of provident fund and other
by a Labour Tribunal to resolve the dispute also failed last week
with both sides maintaining hard-line positions. The dispute since
March was precipitated by plans by the company to terminate the
services of 146 from a total of 513 employees to keep Bata afloat.
efforts to keep the company's business operations economically viable
by ensuring competitive prices in the market, the company has, in
the recent years, expanded volumes of their own footwear imports
and also outsourced a share of production.
not for these arrangements, the company by now could not have continued
with its manufacturing operations," it said in a March 31 letter
to the Labour Commissioner.
Sunil Hettiarachchi, a trade union leader, was sacked from Bata
when he exposed a fraud relating to provident fund payments, workers
resorted to the current sit-down strike claiming they too have been
sacked. The company said Hettiarachchi was dismissed for misconduct.
sit-in strike has stopped production for weeks. The Commercial and
Industrial Workers Union (CIWU) wants the company to stop subcontracting
and for the government to protect the local footwear manufacturing
for comments, Bata Managing Director K.Y.M. Bradley said a statement
would be issued on Thursday. The statement was not issued and Bradley
could not be reached on Friday. Workers say that Bata imports low
cost footwear from China in addition to outsourcing over 50 percent
of its domestic production to subcontractors.