Trade Union Front urges President’s intervention


Anton Marcus

By Lal Gunesekera

Trade Unions affiliated to the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) has requested President Mahinda Rajapaksa to bring about a justifiable settlement to he dispute at Ansell Lanka (Pvt) Limited in the Biyagama EPZ where 11 employees, it said had have been unlawfully terminated.

The Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General services Employees Union (FTZ & GSEU) Anton Marcus told ‘The Island’ Financial Review that the NLAC was deeply concerned over Ansell’s disrespect for the operative labour laws and its failure to even respect commitments made before the Department of Labour.

He said that it was their strong impression that employers especially in enterprises approved by the Board of Investment (BOI) pursue a consistent policy of refusing to recognise legitimate trade unions for bargaining and negotiations. He said that it was to change the mindset that they had been urging the NLAC to amend the sections relating to unfair labour practices in the Industrial Disputes Act (IDA) to bring it in line with the National Workers Charter and ILO conventions.

The FTZ+GSEU chief said that terminating the employment of key union officials and their activity by Ansell Lanka could not be accepted as the action was manifestly malicious and came as an affront to labour law enforcing authorities.

The trade union action at Ansell Lanka had to be viewed in this background and any attempt by the company to institute arbitration proceedings had to be resisted as it was bound to result in undermining union activity and more importantly set a precedent for other employers to act with impunity.

Marcus said that the workers have been on strike since October 11 and urge President Rajapaksa to take necessary action to bring about a justifiable settlement to the dispute without any further delay by requiring Ansell Lanka to conform to the law in Sri Lanka and to reinstate all victimised employees.

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