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

Photos of Participants

 JILAF held a two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on October 17–18 for leaders of the three organizations in Sri Lanka affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), namely, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), and Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS). A total of 58 people attended from these organizations, which shared information on the impact of globalization and the issues facing trade unions. Discussions centered on (1) the expected duties and role of trade unions amid globalization and (2) efforts to build constructive industrial relations and achieve job stability.
 In the seminar, after an address by JILAF Deputy General Secretary Ryo Saito, CWC Vice-President S. Arulsamy, NTUF Vice-President K. Velayudam (deputy secretary general of the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council [SARTUC]), and SLNSS Secretary General Leslie Devendra expressed their gratitude for the continued support and cooperation from JILAF and the Japanese government.
 The CWC, NTUF, and SLNSS representatives then explained the issues facing their respective national centers (the further surfacing of confrontational industrial relations due to the advance of globalization, moves to amend labour laws emphasizing employment flexibility, the virtual lowering of working conditions in the plantation sector, expansion of the informal economy, etc.), adding that it was extremely important in this seminar to learn about Japan’s experience, such as efforts to build constructive industrial relations and maintain job stability.
 After that, JILAF Deputy General Secretary Ryo Saito gave a lecture titled “Constructive Industrial Relations in Japan and the Prevention of Futile Industrial Disputes,” which prompted many participants to remark that amid the increasing complexity of industrial relations as a result of globalization, while the building of Japanese-style industrial relations would certainly be beneficial for both labour and management, the problem in Sri Lanka is that employers tend to belittle and begrudge trade unions.
 Deputy Director General Vajira Ellepola of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) then gave a presentation on the reality of globalization (“one global village”) and the characteristics and issues of industrial relations in Sri Lanka (“in focus, the new way to collaborate”). Deputy Director General Ellepola commented, “The stability of industrial relations based on mutual trust is the key to sustained economic development. In this sense too, I have much hope for this seminar in which we can learn about Japanese industrial relations.”
 After the lectures, the participants separated into three venues by national center, and two-way lectures were given on the theme of “Issues of industrial relations in Sri Lanka under globalization---toward the building of constructive industrial relations and job stability.” Among them, information was shared about the negative impact of the present global economy on Sri Lankan plantations. In order to improve the lives of trade union members, proposals included (1) contributions to better productivity and quality so as to ensure competitiveness (new export target: Russia); (2) the building of relations of mutual trust with management; and (3) understanding of the financial condition of the company and appropriate demands for the distribution of profits to labour that take account of the company’s capability.
 On the second day group discussions were held by national center on the theme of “Toward the building of constructive industrial relations in a global economy.” The subsequent presentations shared the recognition that the building of relations of trust with management through contributions to productivity and quality improvement so as to ensure competitiveness is essential for the building of constructive industrial relations. In addition, various suggestions and requests were made, including (1) the holding of informal labour-management dialogues (once a month) in order to understand global market trends and the business plans and financial condition of the company; (2) the raising of awareness about constructive industrial relations and training for both employers and trade union members; (3) appropriate wage demands taking account of the company’s financial condition; (4) Japan’s cooperation in disseminating the contents of the seminar to labour and management in Sri Lanka and Japan’s cooperation; and (5) the further long-term holding of this seminar toward the building of Japanese-style industrial relations in Sri Lanka.
 The seminar was reported by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, NEWS1st, and IBC television stations.

Schedule

DateContents
10/17MonIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar day 1
10/18TueIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar day 2

Photos of Participants

Opening ceremony

Lecture by JILAF

Lecture by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon

Sub-session

Group discussions

Action plan presentation