26 August, 2014Unions held a rally outside of Ansell’s Australian headquarters following the denial of entry visas to a delegation of Sri Lankan union members. The Australian government denied the visas in an apparent attempt to shield glove and condom maker Ansell from public exposure of its harsh and unjust treatment of its workers in Sri Lanka.
The visas were denied to the Sri Lankan head of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU), and two workers recently employed at Ansell’s manufacturing operation in the Biyagama Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka. Ansell fired these and nearly 300 other workers when they struck in support of 11 sacked colleagues and trade union representatives in October 2013.
The Australian government’s official decision records state that the visas were denied for failing to have sufficient personal wealth.
AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer said that it is clear the Australian Government led by anti-union Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused entry to the Sri Lankans on political grounds.
We have a federal government denying lawful entry into Australia based on ideology and wealth. Is it any wonder that three Sri Lankan workers, two of whom were recently sacked by Ansell, have ‘insufficient’ personal funds by Australian standards?
Michele O’Neil, National Secretary of the TCFUA, said the head of the FTZGSEU, Anton Marcus, is an international trade union figure and has been to Australia four times previously and it has never been a problem before now.
These union delegates planned to come to Australia to talk about the anti-worker tactics implemented in Sri Lanka by Ansell and to seek international solidarity. We will continue to protest with or without our honoured guests to expose this company’s harsh and unjust treatment of workers in Sri Lanka.
The FTZGSEU is pressuring for a fair settlement in Sri Lanka as the case against the unfair dismissal slowly winds its way through the Sri Lankan judicial system.
IndustriALL continues its campaign in support of the nearly 300 Sri Lankan workers unjustly dismissed by Ansell. It has included outreach to Ansell customers, 11,000 protest emails sent to Ansell management, a support mission to Sri Lanka, and an OECD Complaint.
“We commend our Australian affiliates CFMEU, TCFUA and AMWU for their support and we condemn the Australian government for siding with Ansell in blocking this union delegation,” stated IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina.
“The best way to resolve this dispute is through good faith dialogue with Ansell, not in the courts or in the streets. However until Ansell shows a willingness to work toward a fair settlement, we’ll continue to do everything we can to support FTZGSEU in this struggle,” added Raina.