28th October 2020
Hon Minister of Labour,
Mr Nimal Siripala de Silva,
Ministry of Labour,
Dear Mr Minister,
Re Extension of COVID-related relief for Private Sector employees until December
We refer to the above issue that was referred to by the co-cabinet spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila and was aired on public media on 27th October 2020.
According to the statement made by Minister Gammanila as co-cabinet spokesman, the cabinet has decided to extend the Tri-partite Task Force Agreement that was in force till end September and was not consented to be extended till December 2020 except for the hotel trade at the last Tri-partite meeting on 12th October, chaired by you. The decision at this Tripartite meeting was to extend the original agreement only to the tourist industry and employers in all other sectors who have difficulties should apply to the Commissioner-General of Labour to assess and make a decision on a case by case basis.
You may well remember that employer representatives who are members of the Task Force requested for an extension of this agreement till end December 2020. As requested by you, after perusing details of the present situation of the Apparel sector, it was agreed on the Apparel as well as other Sectors, are in a position to pay the wages for the employees and therefore there was no necessity for any extensions to those sectors. The export details submitted by the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) from March to August 2019 and then from March to August 2020, Apparel sector shows there is apparently no loss of export income though less numbers were employed.
Sadly, despite all discussions and careful study of the evolving situation that led to the decision by the Tri- partite Task Force decision has been grossly contradicted by the cabinet in extending the benefit to employers of all sectors until December 2020. The statement made by co-cabinet spokesman attributes the decision taken to a report presented by you as Minister of Labour.
We thus need to know whether this cabinet decision is based on your report referred to, or whether it is in contradiction to your report. We wish to have an early response without delay.
Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union
Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya
Ceylon Mercantile and Industrial Workers Union
Seafarers Union of Srilanka
United Federation of Labour
Padma Siri Ranawakarachi
National Trade Union Federation
On behalf of the above-mentioned unions