& Efird (A&E) Lanka, the total thread solutions provider,
has been appointed as the authorised regional distributor for the
Lurex Thread Company, UK.
Lurex is acclaimed as the global leader for metallic and crystallised
embroidery threads. The range includes specialised metallic bleach
wash resistant threads, available for the first time in the local
market. Its range of colours and product types provide a wide variety
of options for buyers and manufactures to choose from.
Lurex threads are manufactured to the highest international specifications
and constantly keep abreast of the ever-changing global fashion
trends. The combined strengths of A&E Lanka’s industry
expertise and the Lurex product range will contribute to filling
the void in the production of value-added products by local apparel
exporters, the company said in a statement.
“This new tie up validates A&E’s commitment to being
in-line with current market trends for value-added embellishments,
whilst providing an opportunity for apparel exporters to add value
to their products,” said Inthikab Muhajireen - Regional Director,
He said the “A&E Lanka will function as the sole distributor
for the greater Asian region, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and
India, and thereby Lurex will be available across the region”.
A&E Lanka is a member of Brandix Lanka, the local apparel conglomerate.
It is also the 2006 recipient of the American Apparel & Footwear
Manufactures Association (AAFA) Excellence in Social Responsibility
(ERS) Award in the Preservation of the Environment category, a first
by any organisation in the South Asian region.
Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Trade Fair Unit in its effort to
expand its trade relations has taken another bold step to lead the
first ever Sri Lankan mission to Myanmar.
A chamber statement said the mission will be held from June 12 –
18, 2006 and will also include Thailand, in a bid to assist members
with wider trading opportunities.
D.M.M.Ranaraja, Sri Lankan ambassador to Myanmar, said in a recent
communication to the CCC that ‘ Myanmar is a potential market
and the time is now opportune for Sri Lanka to explore this untapped
market.’ He said countries like China, Thailand, South Korea
and Vietnam are making maximum use of the available opportunities
The CCC said it has also just concluded a MOU with the Union of
Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry as an initial
step towards strengthening its ties and embarked on organising this
The Sri Lankan embassies in Myanmar and Thailand have identified
Tea, Rubber products, Coconut products, Coir fibre products, Spices,
Garments, Fertiliser, Tourism, Gems & Jewellery, Agro products
and Shipping & Freight Forwarding as potential sectors to be
promoted by Sri Lanka.
The Chamber plans to send a 10-member delegation and the highlight
of the mission would be the One-on-One Business meetings, which
will offer opportunities for mission members to have a direct dialogue
with their business associates from Myanmar and Thailand. The delegation
will meet with their counterparts from Yangon, Mandalay and Thailand.
Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation is sponsoring a group of journalists
and devotees to Chennai, India where the Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society
will once again organize Vesak celebrations. The sponsorship was
recently handed over to the head of the Mahabodhi Society the Most
Ven. Banagala Upathissa Thero by Isuru Tillakawardene, Chief Operating
Officer-Personal Lines of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.
Mr Tillakawardene said the Mahabodhi Vesak celebration is an important
event which helps spread the message of Buddhism and Sri Lankan
culture to South India and SLIC is proud to contribute towards its
success. The celebrations to be held at the Mahabodhi Society's
Chennai Centre are carried out with the support of the Sri Lanka
Deputy High Commission in South India and the Indra Vijaya Foundation.
The highlight of the Chennai Vesak Celebration is a vibrant perahera
that parades the streets of Chennai in bursts of colour and Buddhist
The traditional dancers and drummers of the Sri Lanka Army and Navy
oriental bands participate in the perahera, in a show of Sri Lanka's
cultural splendour. The Mahabodhi Vesak Celebration in Chenna has
been held each consecutive year since 2000.
to your article published in your newspaper on April 23 under the
heading "Commercial Bank AGM was badly handled", your
attention is drawn to some misleading facts, which needs correction.
It was stated in the article that the poor handling of the meeting
by the chairman was partly responsible for the delay of the meeting
and in this connection the writer has accused the chairman for the
following action taken at the meeting:-
1. Arranging for reading the contents of the entire Directors'
In terms of Section 39 (3) of the Banking Act No. 30 of 1988 amended),
the Report of the Board of Directors of any licensed commercial
bank incorporated or established within Sri Lanka by or under any
written law, shall be read at the Annual General Meeting of its
The legal position is that the chairman is neither empowered to
refer the matter to the House to decide on the necessity of reading
the Directors' Report nor has the House the authority, even with
unanimous consent, to take any decision on this matter. I believe
that I have presented facts adequately to clear the misunderstandings,
if any, created in the minds of the general public after going through
the above article.
2. Permitting one shareholder to make long statements:
The writer may not be aware that a chairman of a meeting has a legal
and moral duty to permit any shareholder who speaks on matters included
in the agenda to express his or her views, whilst giving due attention
to the total time allocated for the meeting. Since the writer has
not named the particular shareholder, I am not in a position to
state, under which specific grounds the shareholder referred to
in the Article was permitted to address the meeting. Not only one,
there were several shareholders who expressed their views on certain
action taken by the Monetary Board and some Directors. All such
shareholders were permitted to address the meeting, whilst cautioning
them to restrict their speeches to any matter included in the Directors'
Report, such as Review of Business, Corporate Governance, Risk Management,
Compliance with Laws & Regulations and / or Financial Statements
and / or Re-election of Directors, resignation of Mr. J. S. Mather,
Filling of vacancy created with such resignation and / or Appointment
of auditors etc. They were also reminded, whether necessary, to
make such speeches as short as possible.
3. Permitting shareholders to speak on matters relating
to the legal dispute:
Some reference has been made in the article to certain points raised
by the shareholders in relation to certain matters that are the
subject of a legal dispute in the Courts. I agree that it was my
responsibility to prevent the shareholders from expressing their
views, if it was the intention of such shareholders to criticise
the proceedings / interim decision of the Courts to issue a Stay
Order. As long as the speeches are made within this limit, and relating
to the agenda it is the chairman's duty to permit such speeches.
4. Not declaring the proxy position prior to the conduct
of the poll:
The writer seems to be thinking that the number of shares supported/opposed
a resolution, by proxies can be revealed, prior to demanding a poll
by the shareholders at the meeting. The legal position is not so.
Such details based on the proxies can only be considered, in the
event of a legally demanded poll. Therefore the writer's argument
that the result of the show of hands should not have been declared
without giving the proxy vote count is baseless. His second argument
that if the winner was clear those who asked for the poll could
have been requested to consider withdrawing their call for the poll,
cannot be accepted legally.
5. Pointing out the circumstances under which EGM was summoned:
The minority shareholder, who wrote the article appears to be thinking
that when the nominee directors of a large shareholder just agrees
to holding an EGM at the Board Meeting, the Board of Commercial
Bank should make arrangments to convene the EGM and then, when such
shareholder feels later, that it should not allow the Bank to hold
the EGM, the Board of Commercial Bank should listen to them and
terminate the EGM. The writer is unaware that in such a situation,
it is the prime responsibility of the Chairman to explain that the
EGM was convened, in terms of a decision taken at a Board Meeting,
at which all the Directors had the liberty to express their views.
Certain views expressed by certain shareholders at the AGM would
have been understood/ interpreted by some shareholders that the
Commercial Bank summoned the EGM without proper authority of the
Board. Due to this reason either the chairman or any other Director
should make an attempt to explain the related matters, with a view
of providing a clear understanding on the issue. It was obvious
that there was a need to explain the correct position and also to
permit the shareholders to express their views on the related issues.
This is what happened at the meeting and it cannot be considered
as encouraging an employee shareholder to castigate the shareholder,
concerned as stated by the writer. Using certain recorded information
to explain the relevant matters correctly and adequately is certainly
not reading out the minutes of Board Meetings or divulging Board
6. Recording a statement relating to the non participation
in the EGM:
What actually happened was that the shareholder concerned requested
to record the statement referred to in the article, based on two
a. For making an attempt by a large shareholder to violate a ruling
given by the Central bank.
b. For making a decision by the same shareholder not to participate
at the EGM, having consented by the nominee director of such shareholder
for convening the EGM, when the matter was discussed at the Board
I agree with the writer that the shareholder who requested to record
the statement did not have any authority to make such a request
based on the second reason aforesaid. However he had all the rights
to express his views relating to the first reason aforesaid, which
could be categorized under "Compliance with Laws & Regulations"
, a matter specifically included in the Directors' Report in the
Annual Report. The shareholder concerned was permitted to record
the statement strictly on this basis. I do not know whether the
writer was participating throughout the meeting, since he appears
to have not known/not mentioned that the shareholder concerned made
his request not only regarding the large shareholder's decision
not to participate at the EGM, but also in relation to such shareholder's
action against "Compliance with Laws & Regulations"
7. Other issues relating to the EGM:
You have blamed me for not projecting the collective position of
the Board at the AGM. It is the understanding of the majority of
the shareholders who were present at the meeting that I made every
possible effort to project the collective position of the Board,
whilst providing a reasonable understanding to the shareholders,
on the issues raised at the meeting.
The writer seems to be satisfied when a shareholder is taking a
completely different decision on a particular issue at a general
meeting, when compared with the decision taken by such shareholder's
nominee director at a previous Board Meeting on the same issue.
Is the writer trying to emphasize that it is proper for the chairman
to be silent on such an occasion, so that shareholders are continuously
misled on related issues.
I cannot understand the basis on which reference had been made to
the fact that "it became clear that the chairman was not well
disposed towards some directors, even the Managing Director".
Is it because I invited the Managing Director to respond to a few
queries made by the shareholders at the meeting, on matters which
were more appropriate to be answered by the CEO of the Bank?
M. J. C. Amarasuriya
Chairman, Commercial Bank
reference to a report in The Sunday Times FT on February 12 under
the heading “Sri Lanka risks losing export tariff concessions
union - New BOI team accused of violating labour rights, the information
relating to Workwear Lanka as stated in your newspaper is far from
The company in a statement said it has a union, the Workwear Trade
Union, duly registered under the trade union ordinance of country.
This trade union has the support of the majority of the employees
and has been negotiating with the management on labour welfare and
other issues. For the record, the company recognizes the value of
a legitimate union as an arena for the representation of worker
preferences an issues, which allows management a chance to resolve
such issues before worker discontent escalates.
The FTZ & GSEU is an “outside” union that decided
to dislodge the well functioning Workwear Trade Union in order to
enhance its own national and political status. Using bully tactics
it managed to get 32% of worker support. However when three female
employees, belonging to the Workwear Trade Union, were harassed
at their place of residence by a male employee and his gang of thugs
with the view of intimidating them into giving the “outside”
union their support, they lodged a complaint with the police and
also complained to the HR department of the company. Concern for
the safety and security of the workers prompted the company to suspend
the errant male employee and an impartial inquiry was initiated
as per the disciplinary procedure followed in the private sector
relating to the suspension or termination of employment.
Consequent to the suspension, about 250 workers (32% of the total
company’s workforce) went on strike without any prior notice
and demanded the reinstatement of the worker who had been suspended.
However 480 employees of the company (68%) continued to work normally
and had no complaints whatsoever .The management of Workwear Lanka
(Pvt) Ltd., as well as the BOI’s labour department tried to
explain to these 250 workers, to let the inquiry of the suspended
worker continue and in the meantime come back to work. After the
continuous refusals to return to work, the management was forced
to sack the strikers. As per regulations the Labour Commissioner
was given a list of workers who had supposedly signed up with the
FTZ & GSEU. A closer examination revealed that this union had
attempted to inflate the numbers by duplicating some names and including
names of employees who no longer worked for the company.
The FTZ & GSEU has been resorting to fraudulent tactics: it
has shown more concern for upstaging another union than for the
well being of their workers. They then had the audacity to enlist
the help of well meaning NGOs who accept FTZ & GSEU as the aggrieved
union when in fact this union could be well accused of disrupting
a well functioning union that negotiated with management to enhance
worker welfare. Recently, the Workwear Trade union successfully
negotiated with the management the following benefits/ welfare for
the workers that are already implemented:
* A Welfare fund of Rs: 25,000 per month to be used by workers and
their families in case of any medical or other family urgency
* The construction of a Sports Complex
* Transport facility for all workers and supporting staff
* Monthly scholarship for the outstanding children of our workers
With the loss of approximately 250 workers, Workwear Lanka (Pvt)
Ltd. was not able to fulfill contracts of its foreign customers
and while awaiting a decision from the Labour Commissioner, was
forced to hire temporary workers to complete its contractual obligations.
However the previous management of the BOI refused to issue gate
passes to Workwear’s new recruits claiming in a letter that
the “BOI will consider your request on completion of the action
contemplated by the Commissioner of Labour.”
After numerous failed attempts to reverse this decision of the BOI,
the management of Workwear Lanka was forced to take this matter
to the Court of Appeal where the company was permitted to hire workers.
Workwear said it has always worked according to Sri Lankan Labour
laws and rules. During this ongoing dispute, the management of Workwear
handled this case, as stipulated in the existing Labour laws and
procedures. The statement that Workwear Lanka has acted in violation
of ILO Convention is both untrue and absurd.
The management of Workwear has already written to the ILO inviting
any independent Evaluation Commission representing the ILO, the
office of the Labour Commissioner or the BOI to visit the factory
to get a first hand assessment of the excellent labour practices
adopted by the management.
With regard to the threats made by the FTZ&GSEU that it would
request the ILO to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka through the EU
to withdrawn the GSP we are advised that the ILO is a tripartite
international body which has no jurisdiction to interfere in an
industrial dispute that arises in one or two factories in a given
If a complaint is lodged with the governing body of the ILO it would
first seek the views of the respective government concerned. If
it is a major dispute they would send a special emissary with the
concurrence of the government concerned to report on the situation
and the emissary would consult all parties including the employer.
We are advised that neither the ILO nor the European Union is going
to take into consideration the particular situation in one or two
factories in the country on the question of granting GSP status
arises but they would consider the overall country situation.
(Business Editor’s note: that article was based on
a statement by the FTZ & GSEU union).