Lanka can lose GSP if labour laws aren't revised: Union
July 3, 2012
Sri Lanka stood to lose the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) benefit awarded by the United States, if the government did not revise labour laws in the country, the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) said yesterday.

The Union said the country had been awarded the continued benefit despite labour laws not being conducive for freedom of association and collective bargaining.

FTZGSEU General Secretary Anton Marcus pointed out that Sri Lanka had lost the GSP plus benefit awarded by the European Union after reports of unbearable labour laws in the country came to light. Marcus said, though the government made an effort to obtain the GSP plus scheme and made some changes in the law, it had not implemented them.

Marcus said complaints had been made about the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining that were absent in the current free trade zone areas. “Some of the workplaces do not allow employees to form trade unions, conduct meetings or even strike, demanding their rights,” he said.

“We have continuously complained about these incidents to the government but there has been no response so far,” Marcus stated.

Meanwhile, Labour and Labour Relations Minister Gamini Lokuge said the country was in no position to lose the benefit. “The United States gave us the benefit after thoroughly conducting investigations in the country,” he said.

Lokuge confirmed the US representatives had spoken to the public as well as the trade unions before the decision to extend the benefit. “They had suspended the benefit but we have now received it after we made the necessary amendments to the laws,” he said. He also confirmed the United States had not laid down any conditions to extend the benefit.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka