Global TU to Sri Lanka on fact finding mission

Trade union  The leader of the world s single largest trade union (TU) federation will be in the country on a five-day visit starting February 15, on a fact-finding mission regarding issues faced by local workers, including those unjustly terminated by their employers, senior union officials said yesterday.

General Secretary of the Global Union Federation of Industry-All (GUFIA), Yruki Raina will hold discussions with affiliates and take note of issues faced by local workers in the manufacturing sector, Palitha Athukorale of the National Union of Metal and Migrant Workers Sri Lanka (NUMMWS) told the Sunday Times.

Mr Raina s observations will later be conveyed to the European Union (EU) that stopped Generalized System of Preference (GSP) concessions on Sri Lanka s exports in 2010, after the Government failed to endorse required international labour and human rights and issues regarding the industry and the environment, Mr Athukorale said.

At present the GUFIA has an estimated 50 million members spread across 148 countries including Sri Lanka

During his stay in the country, Mr Raina is also billed to meet with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Labour Minister Gamini Athukorale and several other top government officials and other TU activists, he added.Meanwhile, the visiting the TU chief is expected to focus more attention on the plight of 289 workers who were terminated at Ansell- a BOI approved factory manufacturing rubber surgical gloves in the Biyagama Zone, GUFIA Executive Committee Member Anton Marcus said.

He said these workers were put out of work by the Australian-led management in late October, after they had protested over the arbitrary removal of 11 TU leaders attached to the factory.

The plight of the Ansell workers was also taken up for serious discussions during a recent meeting of the Federation held in Geneva, and this issue will be taken up again with the government at the highest level by the visiting TU leader, Mr Marcus added.

In addition, Mr Raina is also due to meet employers and trade unionists in the manufacturing sector, both inside and outside the Industrial Promotion Zones (IPZ s), to obtain a first hand report on the working and living conditions of local workers and to check for exploitation at any level.

Mr Marcus added that, since the withdrawal of the EU GSP concessionsin 2010, importers of Sri Lankan manufacture are compelled to pay a higher price, when compared with exports from other countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam etc.

This has affected to a considerable extent, the Sri Lankan market in the EU which imported some 4,200 various finished items, but the relevant officials have opted to remain silent, he said.

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