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Union win in Sri Lanka

5 March, 2024IndustriALL’s Sri Lankan affiliate, Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), was victorious in the reinstatement of 18 suspended workers and a branch union registration at Texlan hosiery factory in Sri Lanka.

In September 2023 FTZ&GSEU established a branch union in the factory. When management became aware of the union, it immediately suspended union office bearers, their family members and associates. Five of the 18 suspended workers were women. 

During the six month long struggle, along with filing a complaint with the department of labour, FTZ&GSEU approached the Interloop group in Pakistan, Nike and IndustriALL’s affiliates in Pakistan seeking intervention. The Texlan unit is owned by the Interloop Group of Pakistan, a Nike supplier.

On 15 February, 2024, Texlan management and the union signed an agreement which states that the suspended union leaders and workers are to return to work starting 19 February and that all disciplinary actions be dropped along with payment of back wages and benefits accrued during the suspension months. 

The assistant commissioner of labour who conducted the inquiry instructed the company not to interfere in the trade union action. The branch union at Texlan Centre has also received recognition from the department of labour.

Anton Marcus, joint secretary of FTZ&GSEU, says:

“It’s a big win for Texlan’s workers and the union. The suspended workers were out of work for six months but they did not lose their spirit and fought hard to turn the tide. Now they are back at work, with management recognising the existence of the branch union.” 

IndustriALL’s South Asia regional secretary, Ashutosh Bhattacharya, says:

“We salute the struggle of Texlan workers as well as our affiliate, FTZ&GSEU. We stand in solidarity with unions in Sri Lanka as they fight against the growing attacks on workers’ right to freedom of association.”