17 November, 2019

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ILO Accused Of Supporting Govt’s Secret Labour Law Reforms

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) facilitated move to reform selected labour laws without consulting worker stakeholder’s has come under fire from the Trade Unions.

In a letter sent to ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Donglin Li, the Trade Union’s state that “we the undersigned unions have reliably learnt that the Colombo office of the ILO is facilitating the reform of selected labour laws and your office has offered the government of Sri Lanka the services of two retired judges of the Supreme Court in order to provide necessary expertise”.

DSCN2107Further on the matter the Unions say that that a meeting will be hosted by the ILO on 2nd November 2015 to present the proposed draft labour reforms to unions.

The Unions say that they have been informed by a responsible senior official of the department of labour that as part of this process, major changes to the Industrial Disputes Act have already been effected in draft form and several other Acts are currently being reviewed.

The Union collective states “We wish to categorically state that we do not intend to be mere respondents of draft reforms or reviews the ILO unilaterally develops with chosen stakeholders sans any input or hearing from worker stakeholders. We consider this as a blatant disregard of the significance of the role of worker stakeholders”.

“In the above circumstances we wish to know, at whose behest the ILO has undertaken this process of labour reforms and why worker stakeholders were kept out of this process and its terms of reference not made public”

The Unions say that if a tripartite stakeholder is of the view that the current laws dealing with employment require changes they should first be brought to the attention of the stakeholders
Also the Unions have questioned the reputation and track record of the ILO nominated retired members from the judiciary to oversee the process.

“It is regretting to note that there are serious issues with the impartiality and integrity of these experts. One of them is a collaborator of the disgraceful impeachment of Chief Justice 43 and a cohort of the former regime who was unceremoniously and physically chased out from a high profile legal education institution headed by the country’s chief justice, after the fall of the former regime. This ex judicial officer was also a member of the bench that restricted the exercise of the right to strike in 2006” the letter adds.

The full letter sent by the Unions to the ILO chief is published below;

12th October 2015

Mr.Donglin Li
ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Colombo 7.

Dear Sir,

ABSENCE OF IMPARTIALITY AND INTEGRITY IN THE ILO FACILITATED LABOUR REFORM PROCESS

We the undersigned unions have reliably learnt that the Colombo office of the ILO is facilitating the reform of selected labour laws and your office has offered the government of Sri Lanka the services of two retired judges of the Supreme Court in order to provide necessary expertise. Further, upon inquiry from your office, we have been informed that a meeting will be hosted by the ILO on 2nd November 2015 to present the proposed draft labour reforms to unions and any union that is desirous of being invited to this event should submit its contact details to the ILO Colombo office. We have also been informed by a responsible senior official of the department of labour that as part of this process, major changes to the Industrial Disputes Act have already been effected in draft form and several other Acts are currently being reviewed and we were requested to seek clarification from your office, should we require any information since this exercise is facilitated by the ILO.

We wish to state that if a tripartite stakeholder is of the view that the current laws dealing with employment require changes they should first be brought to the attention of the stakeholders. We regret to note that no such intimation have been brought to our notice by any stakeholder. We also strongly believe that stakeholders should be called upon to make representations of their positions at the outset of such a process and a constructive hearing offered prior to the drafting of reforms or beginning of the process of review, so that perspectives of stakeholders are reasonably engaged and taken into consideration in the overall course of reforms.

We wish to categorically state that we do not intend to be mere respondents of draft reforms or reviews the ILO unilaterally develops with chosen stakeholders sans any input or hearing from worker stakeholders. We consider this as a blatant disregard of the significance of the role of worker stakeholders.

In the above circumstances we wish to know, at whose behest the ILO has undertaken this process of labour reforms and why worker stakeholders were kept out of this process and its terms of reference not made public.

We also wish to bring to your attention that if the ILO is utilising the services of retired members of the judiciary their impartiality and integrity should be manifest and they should be individuals reasonably acceptable and who could command the confidence of all three stakeholders.

It is regretting to note that there are serious issues with the impartiality and integrity of these experts. One of them is a collaborator of the disgraceful impeachment of Chief Justice 43 and a cohort of the former regime who was unceremoniously and physically chased out from a high profile legal education institution headed by the country’s chief justice, after the fall of the former regime. This ex judicial officer was also a member of the bench that restricted the exercise of the right to strike in 2006. This decision of the of the local judiciary was ruled as contrary to the principles enunciated in Conventions No.87 and 98 in the findings of ILO Committee on Freedom of Association Case No.2519 (Sri Lanka), which was adopted at the 300th Session of the Governing Body of the ILO in November, 2007.

It is needles to state such questionable past conduct of some members of the local judiciary left the government of Sri Lanka with no option other than to co sponsor a resolution calling for a “hybrid” mechanism to investigate violations of norms of international humanitarian law in September 2015 at the UNHRC in Geneva, as the judiciary has failed to command its independence in the eyes of all communities living in the country. In these circumstances it is all the more important that cautious and tripartite consensus based decisions are reached in choosing ex members of the judiciary, especially from among those who served in the era of the former regime.

In view of the above and as integral stakeholders of the tripartite process of labour we kindly request you to:

  • Take immediate steps to remedy the flaws set out above in the purported labour reform process
  • Declare on whose request the reforms were undertaken and make public the terms of reference of the process
  • Effect the recruitment of local experts based on the consensus of stakeholders and in a manner that reflects impartiality and integrity
  • Provide a reasonable opportunity to worker stakeholders to present their concerns on the purported labour reforms prior to the beginning of any process of reform or review.
  • The undersigned unions view the concerns raised above as serious, urgent and directly affecting the interests we represent. As such, addressing the above would form the foremost joint priority of our unions.

We are confident you would give serious thought to the concerns raised and not hesitate to ensure the involvement of the ILO in this process is subjected to a strictly transparent and tripartite exercise in keeping with the founding principles of the International Labour Organisation.

Yours faithfully,

The Ceylon Mercantile Industrial and 2. The Ceylon Estate Staffs’ Union (CESU)

General workers Union (CMU)

The Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU) 4. Independent Dock Workers Union

Telecommunications Engineering 6. All Employees Union of Telecom

Diplomates’ Association

Sri Lanka Insurance Employees Union 8. Railway Clerical Union

Dumriya Stashen Karya Sevaka Sangamaya 10. National Free Trade Union

SLIC Internal Sales Staff Union

Food Beverages an Tobacco Employees Industries Union

Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters Union

Professional Trade Union Alliance ( S.L.R )

THE INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS ALLIANCE

The Ceylon Mercantile Industrial and General workers Union (CMU)
The Ceylon Estate Staffs’ Union (CESU)
The Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU)
Independent Dock Workers Union
Telecommunications Engineering Diplomats’ Association
All Employees Union of Information Telecommunication
Sri Lanka Insurance Employees Union
Railway Clerical Union
Dumriya Stashan Karya Sevaka Sangamaya
National Free Trade Union
SLIC Internal Sales Staff Union
Food Beverages and Tobacco Employees Union
Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters Union
Professional Trade Union Alliance (SLR)
Labour Officers Association
Flight Attendants’ Union

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    There is only 2 ways to make our government employees (majority of them) to work and earn based on productivity 1 is the method practiced by MARA/GORA using white van and real threats to for them to fall in line which is not acceptable and illegal which leave with only one other alternative which is to strengthen the Labour laws.

    In which government entity we can say they do a justifiable amount of work for the money paid them on top of working for the least no of days per year and all other perks which comes with it. The reform should include from top to the Gramasevaka level.

    If we do not reform now we will never be able to achieve any tangible development given sizable no of the workforce employed in government sector.

    • 1
      0

      The TUs should get together and demand a decent miniumum LIVING WAGE for all those who work 40 hours a week – as in South Africa and USA. Lanka needs a Social Movement for a decent living wage to hold Ranils’s neo-liberal economic juggernaut accountable. Or, inequality and poverty will spiral out of control.. as in Greece and other countries that went into default because of corruption and the banks subsidizing the rich.

      Increasingly, globally, the poor work in service sector (fast food restrunts, garment workers, plantation, security guards, transport sector etc) and work 40 plus days a week but remain poor and are part of the urban PRECARIATE. Meanwhile the capitalists who own garment factories and tea traders are being subsidzed..

      There should a national movement for a LIVING WAGE of 10$ a day for all who work in the service sector in urban areas – following South African labour rights aggitations..

      On the one hand savers and workers are being hit and forced to subsidize the rich scammers who play the stock markets and on the other wages are losing value due to depreciating rupee.

      The corrupt insider trader, Arjuna Mahendran at the CB is issuing BONDS and doing Greek style borrowing from unscrupulous German and other Banks which also lent to the Greek crisis and default while the IMF turned a blind eye to the coming crisis..

      In Lanka The rupee is crashing and the national debt expanding and the capitalists are being subsidized on borrowed funds while workers are being squeezed on all sides as their purchasing power depreciates with the crashing rupee..

  • 4
    1

    Sri Lanka’s unions had the chance to become a force for good. They really did. Instead, these clowns have now turned into little more than kidnappers holding the country to ransom for the drop of a hat. These parasites are the reason why we never fully industrialized, and one of the reasons we’re still stuck in the third world. What we need is a Margaret Thatcher of our own to deal with these irrelevant scum.

  • 1
    1

    Our labour laws should be completely overhauled in line with the best practice in the world. This would facilitate more foreign and local investments which would greatly benefits the people and the country. These anarchic laws are pulling down the forward march of the country. All the politicians should bear in mind that these have to change for the good of the country, and they shouldn’t play for the gallery.

  • 3
    0

    How can Shirani Tilakawardena take up an assignment in specialized agency of the UN…? The only female judicial member to testify before the unlawful parliamentary select committee against the first woman CJ of SL. The Court of Appeal unanimously held the Parliamentary committee has no power to sit in judgement against CJ43. This position was upheld by the UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of the Judiciary, the International Bar Association and many other global bodies. How come now another UN body offering contracts to a cohort of the former regime who actively collaborated to unlawfully oust CJ43 from office. UN YOUR SLIP IS SHOWING. SHAME….SHAME….SHAME……!!!!!!!

    Where is your process of accountability…..?

    Will there be anyone to take responsibility……?

    Poor Justice Sri Skandaraja President of the Court of Appeal paid supreme sacrifice for upholding justice and left us for good due the unbearable suffering he was put through for his remarkable Judicial courage and bravery.

    UN and ILO shitting on the independence of judiciary without accountability……!!!!!!

    S H A M E……..!!!

  • 2
    0

    For the crime of standing for justice Sri Skandaraja lost his due promotion to the Supreme Court and finally his dear life..! But those who worked to defeat what he bravely stood for, are now rewarded by UN and ILO…..?

    What an ungrateful world we live in?

    My heartfelt condolence and sympathies to the wife and children of late Justice Sri Skandaraja, President of the Court of Appeal.

  • 0
    0

    The only way is to reduce the number employed in the state sector.

    MARA increased it from 0.7 m to 1.4 m and now it has become un-sustainable. They are not linked to productivity and in addition entitled to a non contributory pension scheme as well.

    We have to let go except in areas such as health, education etc.

    Imagine imposing taxes such as telco levy and super gains tax to pay for public sector salary increases!!!

  • 0
    0

    We are in debt. We are not generating funds. Prevent hardship radical measures are needed. Labour law reform and provision for retraining and upgrading of skills. ILO have work study and incentive schems that can help our peopel. Do not support th coorupt and ineffeient. Samuddhri net is their only solution for them.

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