Factory workers out of Labour Council
Representation of Free Trade Zone workers along with four other trade unions have been removed from the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) as a result of the newly constituted body by Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara.
Four trade unions that have been representing its workers from the factory workers in the zones to the staff employed on the estates among other unions have been removed from the NLAC this year.
The NLAC that needs to meet at least once a month had its last meeting in December last year following which the Minister has stated that they need to reconstitute the council before meeting again.
As a result trade unions affiliated to the different political parties have been constituted within the NLAC while four of the long standing trade union bodies have been removed from this year.
The four unions that have been removed are the Free Trade Zone Workers and General Services Union; the Ceylon Mercantile and General Workers Union, the United Federation of Labour, and the Ceylon Estate Staff Union.
In this respect the FTZ Workers and General Services Union General Secretary Anton Marcus told the Business Times that they submitted a complaint to the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday pointing out that the conventions under the ILO have been violated as a result of these actions by the authorities.
The letter submitted was a complaint on violations of rights of trade unions and member workers on representation in the NLAC under ILO Convention 144 together with Article 14.1(d) of the Constitution.
The letter addressed to the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka calls for their intervention in ensuring the fundamental rights of workers in FTZ and the export manufacturing sector to be duly represented through their chosen trade unions at the NLAC and also as social dialogue partners as per conventions signed and ratified by the government.
The union states that in not providing representation at the NLAC denies the rights of employees and workers in negotiating their service conditions, their due remunerations and their right to participate in deciding labour law, labour policy and other issues of national importance.
It was pointed out that in line with the constitution of the NLAC this does not allow for indiscriminate and arbitrary selection of representatives and clearly states representations to the NLAC will be selected by the Minister from among the ‘most representative’ organisations of employers and workers in the different sectors of the economy.
Moreover Mr. Marcus pointed out that they have also signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement with multinational company and also selected to represent the FTZ and the export manufacturing sector at the NLAC for over 14 years since 2009.
The FTZ and GSEU trade union had only once in the past been removed from the NLAC when they were campaigning against union busting of one of the factories through the brands but then were reinstated.
The FTZ and GSEU union together with the other three trade unions are planning on submitting a joint complaint to the ILO as well.
The Business Times made repeated attempts to contact Minister Nanayakkara but was unable to do so.
Labour Commissioner General Prabhath Chandrakeerthi said he was not aware of the reconstituting of the NLAC.
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