The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

US trade union ready to file another GSP case if needed


A top US trade union umbrella group has said it’s keeping its options open to re-file a GSP case against labour rights violations if the Sri Lanka government fails to ‘live up to its commitments’.AFL-CIO, which also has Sri Lankan unions as members, said it was concerned about the US government announcement that the Sri Lanka GSP review will be closed.

“The government of Sri Lanka has made progress during the period the GSP review has been open, but we believe much more effort is needed to improve the ability of workers to exercise their fundamental rights,” it said in a statement.Local trade unions are not happy and concerned about the closure of the labour rights review. “The only thing that has happened is the formation of facilitation centres,” noted Palitha Athukorala, head of the Progress Union.

Political analysts said they believed Sri Lanka has acceded to some US demands relating to human rights issues, and in return won the GSP trade status and closed the probe over labour rights violations.ACL-CIO said the reforms to date, including increased fines for unfair labour practices and union access to the Export Processing Zones through new facilitation centers, will require continued monitoring to ensure proper implementation and enforcement.

“AFL-CIO notes that the governments of the United States and Sri Lanka have agreed to continue to work together on labor concerns under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and encourages the United States to vigorously scrutinize the implementation of these reforms in that body,” it said.

The trade union movement said it will be monitoring the progress of the newly established Labour Affairs Committee of the TIFA and stand in solidarity with the workers of Sri Lanka in their efforts to support themselves and their families with decent jobs and justice in the workplace. “We are ready to re-file a GSP case if the government of Sri Lanka fails to live up to its commitments,” the statement added.

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