FTZ & GSEU demands wage rise for private sector employees

‘We don’t argue for or demand the wage structure mechanism of the two sectors, public and private, be equated or made into a single wage structure. What we argue for and demand is a wage increase for the private sector, the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union says in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena.

The immediate backdrop to this letter by the FTZ & GSEU is a letter which was written recently by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon to the President which, among other things, pointed to what were termed as ‘disastrous implications’ of ‘ad hoc wage increases’ to private sector employees.

The FTZ & GSEU letter also states that: ‘The disparity already caused with the salary increase to the public sector by the November Budget now in effect for 2015, is Rs. 15,000 at the minimum wage level, with the public sector wage raised raised to Rs. 25,000 per month. With your government’s promise to further increase the public sector salary, by Rs. 10,000 in two equal instalments, this gap would further increase to Rs. 25,000 per month, which is two and half months (minimum) wage in the private sector, the minimum wage being Rs. 10,000 only. This you would agree is no anomaly to continue with, in a decent society.

‘We don’t agree the private sector should be allowed a totally free hand in deciding wages, when they are heavily supported through public funds by way of tax concessions. and benefits, improved infrastructure and other incentives. A government that spends public money or foregoes taxes that is due to the public, should have the right to decide in principle, what the national minimum wage in the country should be.

‘A business finding it incapable of accepting a wage increase due to its size and capacity, we wish to, say, is the responsibility of the employer and not the employees. If the employer cannot adhere to the standards required in a country that include the level of wages as well, then it is up to the employer to decide if s/he would continue in business. We wish to stress that businesses which closed down in-the past had not closed down due to wage increases imposed by the government, but often due to other issues relevant to management.

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