CWC/NTUF/SLNSS Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminars in Sri Lanka

Group photo at seminar in Colombo

JILAF held industrial relations and labour policy seminars on “Employment Stability and the Prevention of Needless Industrial Disputes Through the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations” in Colombo on October 16–17 and Kandy, capital of Sri Lanka’s Central Province, on October 18–19. The Colombo seminar was attended by 46 trade union leaders from the three organizations affiliated with the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-AP), namely, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), and the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS). Representatives of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), the Sri Lankan Ministry of Labour, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) also attended. The seminar in Kandy was attended by 26 trade union leaders from the CWC.

At the seminar in Colombo, JILAF Secretary General Ryo Saito kicked off with an opening address in which he mentioned the significance of the seminar bringing together the three organizations in Sri Lanka affiliated with the ITUC-AP. Addresses were also given in the opening ceremony by Legal Officer Kumarasinghe of Sri Lanka’s Department of Labour, Assistant Deputy General Prasad De Silva representing the EFC, and, on the labour side, CWC Vice-President K. Marimuttu, NTUF Secretary General Padmasiri Ranawakaarachchi, and SLNSS Secretary General Leslie Devendra, all of whom expressed their gratitude for the continued support and cooperation from JILAF and the Japanese government.

In the first plenary lecture in Colombo, JILAF Secretary General Saito delivered a talk focusing on Japan’s constructive industrial relations and the prevention of needless industrial disputes. Among other topics, he explained (1) the history of trade unions and transformation of industrial relations in Japan, (2) the current state of Japanese trade unions, (3) the functions and role of trade unions, (4) the strengthening of relations of trust with union members in the workplace and efforts to improve the working environment and achieve employment stability with a sense of ownership by labour and management, and (5) the three guiding principles of productivity.

In the second plenary lecture, EFC Assistant Deputy General De Silva gave a talk titled “Issues in Industrial Relations as Seen by the Employers’ Organization,” in which he remarked that the increase in the number of needless industrial disputes and illegal strikes was hindering Sri Lanka’s economic development. Stressing the importance of the seminar, he said that stable industrial relations based on mutual trust were the key to sustained economic development.

In the third plenary lecture, Legal Officer Kumarasinghe of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Labour, speaking on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, talked about industrial relations as seen by the government and also gave an outline of the mechanism for industrial dispute resolution. Among other topics, he mentioned the importance of collective bargaining beginning with mutual respect between labour and management and of disputes being settled by labour and management in the workplace without recourse to courts or arbitration.

The participants then divided into groups by national center and, with reference to the three plenary lectures, heard lectures on the theme of “Toward the prevention of needless industrial disputes through the building of constructive industrial relations,” with national center executives acting as moderators. They also compiled action plans based on that theme.

In the seminar held in Kandy, JILAF Secretary General Saito again gave an opening address, after which there was an address by Mr. Ravi, Director of the CWC’s International Department, who expressed gratitude for the holding of the seminar for the first time in Kandy.

After the opening, JILAF Secretary General Saito delivered the same lecture that he had given in Colombo. In light of the characteristics of Kandy, where many cases of collisions between labour and management and unfair labour practices are reported, he also explained the importance of (1) standing up firmly to unfair labour practices, (2) understanding that the prolongation of an industrial dispute exerts an impact on employment, working conditions, and society, and (3) fostering relations of trust between labour and management by contributing to productivity improvement.

Other activities in the Kandy seminar included a lecture by University of Peradeniya Visiting Professor Sivapragasam on the theme of industrial relations in the plantation industry and thinking about the future, a lecture by Mr. M Prasad, a member of the CWC’s Youth Committee, on the theme of the organization of young workers and promotion of their employment, and a lecture by CWC Vice-President Marimuttu on the theme of the responsibilities of workers, appropriate utilization of the complaint processing mechanism, and prevention of needless industrial disputes. The participants then divided into two groups and compiled action plans on the theme of “The building of constructive industrial relations and prevention of needless industrial disputes.”

In both the Colombo and Kandy seminars, many participants made such comments as “It is important for workers also to responsibly contribute toward improving productivity and quality, which in the end will win the trust of employers and lead to the fair distribution of profits” and “It is important for workers to make efforts on a daily basis to boost communication with employers and create win-win industrial relations.”

Schedule

DateContents
10/16WedIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo
10/17ThuIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo
10/18FriIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Kandy
10/19SatIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Kandy

Photos of the Participants

Lecture by JILAF at the Colombo seminar

Talk by the EFC at the Colombo seminar

Lecture by a government official at the Colombo seminar

Question from a participant at the Colombo seminar

CWC sub-session at the Colombo seminar

SLNSS sub-session at the Colombo seminar

NTUF sub-session at the Colombo seminar

Presentation by a participant at the Colombo seminar

Opening ceremony at the Kandy seminar

Group photo of participants at the Kandy seminar

Lecture on young workers at the Kandy seminar

Group discussions to compile action plans at the Kandy seminar