In February, dismissed Ansell workers demonstrated in the Free Trade Zone with Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL general secretary.
The conflict at the Ansell factory in one of Sri Lanka’s free trade zones has seen 294 workers out of a job since October. The Supreme Court has instructed Ansell to negotiate a settlement with the trade union FTZGSEU, which the company blatantly refuses to do.
The 294 workers were fired in October last year when striking in support of 11 sacked colleagues and trade union representatives at Australian multinational Ansell, maker of surgical and industrial gloves. With lower courts ruling in favour of reinstating the dismissed workers, the Supreme Court ordered Ansell to negotiate a settlement with IndustriALL Global Union affiliate FTZGSEU.
But when the Supreme Court again took up the case on 3 March it was clear that Ansell had no intention of trying to find a viable solution. The Supreme Court had proposed the reinstatement of the 294 workers, but Ansell claims to have filled the vacancies.
The Chief Justice has now ordered that the Sri Lankan labour tribunal should hear all the cases, except for 35 workers who have received severance payment. If still unresolved, the Supreme Court will hear the case again.
IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina, recently travelled to Sri Lanka on a mission. As well as meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the Ansell case, he also met and talked with some of the dismissed workers.
“Ansell were instructed by the labour ministry not to fill the vacancies until this industrial dispute was resolved. Claiming to have done so shows total contempt for the workers, the unions and the legal system.”
“It seems everyone but Ansell wants to see an end to this conflict. The people out of work are suffering, and we are now getting reliable information that the quality of the production has decreased, in the end resulting in surgical risks. Ansell needs to step up and take responsibility.”