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Tripartite agreement to protect Sri Lankan workers

25 May, 2020In a demonstration of social dialogue, Sri Lanka’s tripartite Covid-19 taskforce has reached an agreement to ensure payment of wages and employment to workers.

The government of Sri Lanka established a Covid-19 tripartite taskforce aiming to safeguard the interests of workers and employers through social dialogue. The taskforce reached an agreement applicable to all sectors on 5 May, ensuring payment of wages and employment within the existing legal framework. The agreement was endorsed by the Sri Lankan ministerial cabinet on 14 May. 

Members of the taskforce agreed that workers will continue to be employed and will not be retrenched from work due to Covid-19 lockdown measures. All employees will be deployed at work and allotted equal number of shifts through rotation. This will protect workers’ interests while respecting health and safety measures like social distancing.

If employees are not deployed at work during May and June, they will be paid 50 percent of their basic wages or LKR 14500 (US$77), whichever is more beneficial. In addition, employees provident fund (EPF) and employees’ trust fund (ETF) contributions on the wages will also be paid to workers.

Anton Marcus of IndustriALL affiliate Free Trade Zone & General Services Employees Union, and one of the members of the taskforce says:

“Given the difficult circumstances we are facing with Covid-19, this tripartite agreement is an instrument to safeguard workers’ interests. Now we are working to create more awareness among workers about this agreement to ensure that large number of companies implement it.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, says:

“The tripartite agreement is an important step forward to provide relief to Sri Lankan workers. IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with Sri Lankan affiliates in their efforts to defend workers’ rights during this challenging period.”

The tripartite taskforce include representatives from Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), the trade unions, including many IndustriALL Sri Lankan affiliates and the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations.