Employers try to pickpocket workers’ salaries under the cover of Corona

Police have imposed curfew in some areas of Gampaha District after thousands of employees of the Divulapitiya, Brandix Company were infected with corona virus. Taking advantage of this situation, employers have requested the Minister of Labor to allow to pay half of wages for all workers in the country, who will not report for the work, until December 31. On behalf of the Ceylon Employers’ Federation, its Director General made this request at a meeting held at the Ministry of Labour on October 7, saying that companies could not be held accountable for losses incurred without their control.

Previously, Trade Unions had agreed to pay Rs. 14,500 or half of the salary for employees who do not report for work from May to September 2020. That was in line with the company owners’ agreement not to lay off their employees during that period. But some companies broke that agreement and used other tactics to lay off their employees. The first victims were contract workers such as manpower workers. Then they fired workers who worked less than 6 months and after that they fired permanent employees using so-called VRS schemes and compensation.

After the spread of the corona epidemic, the garment industry, the hotel industry and the tourism industry were the worst affected. This situation arose due to the cessation of garment exports and non-arrival of tourists. Resumption of production to some extent started from May. Taking advantage of this situation which has affected only few sectors, the employers are trying to pay half the salary to all the sectors in the private sector. Commenting on the request, Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that he could consider only for the garment sector to extend this period. The unions have suggested that this facility should be given only for the companies who make requests be given the opportunity after an investigation. The final decision will be made on 12th Monday.