29 September, 2023


Key Demands To Address The Covid-19 Crisis In The Free Trade Zones: An Open Letter To The GoSL, Factory Owners & Buyers

Key Demands to address the COVID-19 crisis in the Free Trade Zones

To the GoSL & Factory Owners/Employers;

* Prioritize ALL workers in the FTZ and apparel supply chain for COVID-19 vaccination, both in the western province and the rest of the country. This should include both regular employees as well as employees from the Manpower agencies. Set up vaccination centers at health facilities near the zones, and at the gates of the different Free Trade Zones (FTZ). Have a target of vaccinating all workers within a two week period.

* Put in place a systematic random PCR testing programme across all factories, and immediately take measures to trace, isolate and transport workers who test positive and their first contacts, to quarantine centres. The workers should be informed of the COVID-19 infection situation at their respective factory on a daily basis.

* Provide quarters within each respective factory or the Zone, exclusively for FTZ workers (including Manpower workers), so that there are no delays in transporting workers from hostels to quarantine centres, citing a lack of space. Factory owners need to take much more responsibility to protect their workers. For those workers to whom the factories are unable to provide dedicated living quarters, ensure that practical safety measures are supported in the boarding houses. These places where workers from different factories co-habit must be provided with adequate facilities to maintain COVID-19 safety precautions.

* Workers who are forced into quarantine centers or self-isolation due to being exposed to COVID-19 infection at their work place, on the way to work, or at their boarding house, must be given full pay for quarantine days, and no reduction in attendance bonus and other related incentives. Any quarantine related expenses must be reimbursed by factory owners to the workers.

If a factory or part of the factory is closed due to high COVID-19 prevalance, the workers must be paid in full for the month, and any Manpower workers who have been on the roster for the month must be compensated adequately. Workers who are in quarantine should not be subject to ‘No Pay Leave’. Workers who are considered to be at risk due to their condition, should not be forced to come to work during the period. This may include for example pregnant women, workers with diabetes and other non-communicable disease that may be co-morbidities and increase risk of serious illness. They should be paid in full during the period.

* Rs. 5,000 monthly relief ration packs should be distributed to all workers, starting with unemployed Manpower and non-permanent workers. Grama Sevakas must be given clear instructions to not limit assistance to election registration lists, as workers are not included in these lists.

* Ensure that all factories strictly adhere to health and safety guidelines, such as, regular checking of temperature of workers, work space and machinary lay-out that maintains recommended distance between workers, regular sanitizing of machines, surfaces and raw materials, providing PPE for all workers, washing hands regularly etc.

* Ensure that PHI, Labour officers and BOI officers regularly monitor the adherence to the systematic PCR testing and safety measures and remuneration plans recommended above.

* Put in place Health Committees in each factory that has adequate worker representation.

* Immediately put in place a COVID-19 Management Forum in each Zone, consisting of manufacturer representatives, worker representatives, a PHI/health authority representative, a Labour Department representative and a BOI representative that conduct daily online meetings to raise, discuss and deal with worker health concerns.

* Convene a weekly multi-stakeholder online forum between Labour Department, BOI officials, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), worker representatives and women’s organizations working in the Zone, to raise, discuss and deal with worker issues that arise during the period.

* Put in place a special health hotline that workers can call for information and counseling regarding COVID-19 infection and response measures.

To Brands/Buyers;

* The buyers should pay a premium for production during lockdown/restricted periods. The benefit of this premium should directly reach the workers.

* The buyers should include COVID-19 safety measures in their buyer’s code, and in their periodic audits.

Signed by;

Dabindu Collective Sri Lanka, Katunayake

Revolutionary Existence for human Development (RED), Katunayake

Sramabimani Kendraya, Seeduwa

Standup Movement Lanka, Katunayake

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Latest comments

  • 9

    Cloth dust smell or many people have negative results some wool that considered wool an allergen, prone to skin irritations

    High on the agenda of discussion is disinfecting. The thinking is there will be a ‘new normal’ for the cleaning and facilities management industries. INCREASE exhaust fan promotes circulation by pulling air from inside and releasing it outside, so fresh air can ventilate the space. Fogging a effective at reducing air-bourne contaminants. provides the with a range of benefits Bio Hygiene’s surface sanitiser

    • 1

      I agree.
      This appeal, however, concerns COVID19 and deserves support.
      What you raise is a more general problem that has failed to receive attention for decades. It needs further elaboration and initiative in the public sphere.
      The issue of dust plus other health hazards including general sanitation issues need to be brought to public attention.
      Denial of trade union rights had enabled callous neglect of health of employees.

      • 1

        This is monsoon flu season and every year people get flue during May-September Southwest monsoon time and some people die of flue.
        Covid-19 is milder than seasonal influenza all the Data shows.
        Covid-19 is part of US bio-warfare and bio-terrorism project and a narrative distraction used to divide the left and Trade Unions by the Global corporations and Big Pharma Vaccine producers- Pfizer is a CIA and US govt. link outfit, implicated in killing of Dr. Senaka Bibile.
        Covid-19 is part of the biowarfare of the crashing US empire and on GLOBALIZATION. It is an attack on the economy of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) and destroy the Global South to make America and EU “great again”. It has and will backfire. But many TUs and left organizations are funded by US outfits and follow the American agenda to divide, rule and loot the countries of the Global South.

        • 1

          Covid-19 vaccines developed a “warped Speed” were authorized only for Emergency Use in US and EU and India.
          The Health Authorities in Sri Lanka are not Doing FULL DISCLOSURE about the dangers of vaccines.
          Covid 19 Vaccines are dangerous and their long term
          There is NO Covid-19 EMERGENCY in Sri Lanka. More people die of flu in an average year than Covid-19, and they are using Fake PCR positive tests to lock down the country as monsoon flu season is here. Sri Lanka has almost reached herd immunity.

          Sri Lankans are protected with BCG vaccine that provides broad Trained and innate immunity against respiratory illness.
          Too many Vaccines confuse the immune system and many in Itally who got flu vaccines died because of too many vaccines confused the immune system and it over-reacted causing a cytokine storm. FTZ Workers should resist vaccinations.

      • 0

        Sadly, Sri Lanka is a lost cause.

    • 7

      Israeli airstrike just destroyed the Al-Jalaa building which housed The Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza…..
      And UNHRC seeking an additional program budget of US $ 2.8 million to INVESTIGATE Sri Lanka.
      In your face you fools…………

    • 0

      RBH59, You really make me laugh!

      • 2

        Captain Morgan

        Safety blinded make you to laugh, not safety minded

        • 0

          RBH59, I am not laughing at what you say, but the way you say it. There is another comment of yours on this page that bears out what I say.

          • 0

            Captain Morgan

            Any comments all dont agree the way it is said since i got thumb up of 8 i can say
            the way i said is agreed

  • 10

    “Workers . . . must be given full pay for quarantine days, and no reduction in attendance bonus and other related incentives.”
    Kamal Guneratne is doing so much for the families, etc, of the “Ranaviruwo”. Fine?
    Any Tamil who even sympathised with the Tigers is regarded as not even human. We have had the handful of racists who comment here saying many times that no Tamil militant had Human Rights. OTOH, people like Vinayagarmoorthi Muralitharan (Colonel Karuna), KP, et al are never going to be faulted by the Double-Paksas. Like the Rajapaksas, they are allowed to live like Princes.
    So far, the World has treated us quite decently, considering what a disgraceful lot the SLPP are. They will still help if they can when it comes to humanitarian aid, but clearly, we, who live in this country as ordinary citizens will have to pay the price that must properly be paid by the crooks – unless we work out how to outsmart these criminals.
    Who are the criminals? Most of the top leadership of the SLPP. Some of us have to take the risks inherent in naming and shaming the miscreants.

  • 7

    Its sad and unfortunate situation,hope things get better soon ,meantime people also more cautious as well

  • 0

    Unfortunately, Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, “a Social and Medical Anthropologist” engaged by the Ceylon Mercantile and General Workers Union (CMU), has been feeding juxtaposing conspiracy theories (Certainly not scientific conclusions) and has been lobbying against any COVID-19 restriction in SriLanka while newer strains with increased transmissibility and increased severity of disease have appeared and overwhelming health care systems where restrictions have been lax. In addition the 3.3+ million recorded deaths worldwide so far, has left thousands with permanent health impairment.

    The CMU lobbyist’s latest assault on common sense and credible scientific expertise;

    Is CMU actually committed to looking after the health of its workers/members? Looks to me that it’s priority is the wealth of the industry masters.

    Don’t these folk recognise that it is those restrictions and controls put into effect by the many nations that have curtailed the number of deaths, and that similar protective and preventative measures will safeguard the workers and thus ensure impact on the industry is minimised?

  • 0

    Call for information and counseling It’s possible that the virus can spread from person to person simply by talking, or even breathing, according SNEEZING happens suddenly wearing the mask then we cannot use the mask again how many people dispose them even coughing producing a particle guidance called even to protect the eye advise are placed in flight air ports in to use air freshener very often

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