Colombo Telegraph

Labour Law Reform Proposals 2015; A Trojan Horse Of The Employers: CFL

The proposals for reform of labor laws of the country is a Trojan horse of the Employers, says the Ceylon Federation of Labour.

Issuing a statement the CFL today said; “the National Workers Charter reaffirmed Sri Lankan’s commitment to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Declaration of Philadelphia and to the Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO. The CFL is of the firm opinion that any reform of labour law should be contemplated within this framework and no other. The CFL shall oppose with whatever mean available to it any and all attempts to dismantle the existing labour law regime that gives some measure of protection to our workers who have to work to live on a periodic wage.”

We publish below the statement in full;

The Ceylon Federation of Labour (CFL) is aware of proposals for reform of labor laws of the country prepared by a team of former Supreme Court Judges with willing collaborators from the trade unions and other so-called technical experts who have all had the support of the ILO in this exercise.

The CFL categorically state that the entire process that entailed the procedure that was followed in formulating the proposals is much flawed in that the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), a tripartite body responsible to attend to such tasks has had no intimation of this aspect of the project of the ILO. It is our firm belief that an international body such as the ILO built on the principles of tripartism would not venture into such an exercise without the expressed request from either the government, the employer or trade union. From the invitation letter sent by the Ministry of Labour convening the workshop held on 2nd November it is clear that the matter of labour reforms has been hatched as far back as 2010 gathering momentum in March 2015. How come this subject never been mentioned in the deliberations of the NLAC all these years?

Taken as a whole the 44 page document titled: Recommendations for Labour Reforms dated the 02nd November 2015 is much employer driven and important trade unions’ proposals for reform submitted to the authorities over the years for the full implementation of ILO Conventions ratified by Sri Lanka that concern Industrial Relations, Terms and Conditions of Service, Wages, Social Security etc. have all been ignored. In the considered view of the CFL the reform project has served as a convenient vehicle to smuggle in the employers’ Trojan horse – innocuously titled Draft Workplace Cooperation Act embedded with legal sanctions for employer prerogatives and the Terminations of Employment Act (TEWA) which the employers were baying for some decades.

We view with disfavour any attempt by the government or the employers to deviate from the State Labour Policy as contained in the National Workers Charter that received the unanimous approval of the National Labour Advisory Council and which was promulgated as State Labour Policy by HE President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on 02nd September 1995.

The National Workers Charter reaffirmed Sri Lankan’s commitment to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Declaration of Philadelphia and to the Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO. The CFL is of the firm opinion that any reform of labour law should be contemplated within this framework and no other. The CFL shall oppose with whatever mean available to it any and all attempts to dismantle the existing labour law regime that gives some measure of protection to our workers who have to work to live on a periodic wage.

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