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Breakthrough for Ansell workers in Sri Lanka

18 August, 2016IndustriALL Global Union and its Sri Lankan affiliate the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) have finalized a Memorandum of Understanding with Ansell, putting an end to a long-running dispute with the multinational glove and personal protection equipment company.

Some 281 workers at Ansell Lanka, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ansell Limited in Sri Lanka, were fired in November 2013 after they took strike action in support of 11 discharged colleagues and trade union representatives of FTZGSEU. While Ansell’s termination of the striking workers was upheld by Sri Lanka’s highest court, IndustriALL and the FTZGSEU have engaged in a long but constructive dialogue with Ansell to resolve these issues.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Ansell Limited, IndustriALL and the FTZGSEU on 5 August 2016, Ansell says it anticipates rehiring many of the former employees as it opens vacancies for hundreds of new jobs at its Sri Lankan operation in the Biyagama Export Processing Zone. Ansell is also offering early retirement packages for more than 40 workers.

Although FTZGSEU lacks sufficient representation to be a recognized collective bargaining representative for the Ansell Lanka factory, Ansell has agreed not to take any actions to prevent FTZGSEU from lawful and reasonable activities to organize Ansell Lanka workers. Ansell has reaffirmed its commitment for the rights of all employees to freedom of association. The Company also agrees not to discriminate against the workers if they are rehired and will assume a positive attitude to the former workers and towards their rehiring.

FTZGSEU Joint Secretary Anton Marcus said:

We welcome this offer from Ansell and hope it marks the start of improved relations with the Company. We commend the strength and solidarity shown by workers, and expect that all those who want to and are qualified to return to Ansell Lanka will be rehired. We thank IndustriALL and unions around the world for their solidarity support which has been instrumental in helping to achieve this settlement.

The MoU concludes an OECD complaint launched by IndustriALL against Ansell in November 2013.

IndustriALL’s General Secretary Jyrki Raina said:

We are happy to have reached this agreement with Ansell and that nearly 300 workers can at last look forward to a brighter future. We see this as the start of a new chapter and constructive industrial relations between IndustriALL, Ansell and our affiliates in Sri Lanka and in other countries where Ansell operates.

There will be follow-up meetings with Ansell in the next three and six months to monitor implementation of the MoU.