Bata crisis continues despite PM’s mediation
By Lenin Amarawickrama
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse last week intervened in the dispute between the management and workers at the Bata shoe factory, which enters its second month, but failed to resolve the issue.

At a meeting called by the Prime Minister, Bata Managing Director in Sri Lanka, Kym Bradley said he would reinstate 450 out of 595 workers currently involved in the stay-in-strike which was launched demanding the reinstatement of their trade union leader Sunil Hettiarachchi among other demands.

The Prime Minister had urged both parties to end the strike. President of the parent union of the Bata branch, Linus Jayatillake said the offer was not acceptable.

“The workers want all 595 workers reinstated,” he said. Mr. Hettiarachchi was sacked for exposing alleged corruption by the Bata management but his case will now come up for arbitration before a labour tribunal.

Mr. Bradley, who confirmed to The Sunday Times the company's position at the meeting with the Prime Minister, said Bata also offered to take immediate action to deposit all EPF dues in the Central Bank, a key demand of the unions.

The Bata chief said compensation would be paid to the 146 workers due to be retrenched but was opposed to their reinstatement.

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