Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Sri Lanka

JILAF, together with the Asia-Pacific regional organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-AP), held a two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on October 13–14 for leaders of the three organizations in Sri Lanka affiliated with the ITUC-AP, namely, the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), and Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS). A total of 50 people attended from these organizations (including 21 women). This was the second time for the three ITUC-AP-affiliated national centers to gather together, following a similar seminar held last year. Three senior officials from an SLNSS-affiliated trade union at a Japanese company (Noritake Co., Ltd.) participated, and a representative from the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon also attended as a speaker.
After touching on such issues as (1) the present state of Sri Lanka’s society and economy and the role of trade unions in a global economy and (2) the further strengthening of bilateral relations between Japan and Sri Lanka with reference to history since World War II, JILAF Deputy General Secretary Ryo Saito delivered a lecture titled “Formation of the Postwar Japanese Labour Movement and Characteristics of Industrial Relations in Japan: Japanese Trade Unions Born from Ruins.” He shared Japan’s experience in the achievement of employment stability and prevention of meaningless industrial disputes through the building of constructive industrial relations, including (1) the history of the Japanese labour movement since World War 11 and changes in campaign policy (breakaway from struggle-first principle), (2) macroeconomic growth and improvement of the lives and working conditions of workers, (3) the productivity improvement movement, (4) the labour-management consultation system and collective bargaining, and (5) organizational management emphasizing dialogue with shop-floor union members. He also offered encouragement for the further development of the Sri Lankan labour movement.
From the Sri Lankan side, meanwhile, the representative of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon delivered a lecture titled “The Reality of Globalization and the Characteristics and Issues of Industrial Relations in Sri Lanka from the Perspective of Management.” The speaker stated that “The key to sustained economic development lies in the stability of industrial relations based on mutual trust.” After that, the participants dispersed to three venues---one for each national center---to hear interactive lectures on the main theme of “Issues of Industrial Relations in Sri Lanka amid Globalization: Toward the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations and Employment Stability.”
In the final part of the seminar there were group discussions and presentations on the theme of “Toward the Building of Constructive Industrial Relations in an Increasingly Global Economy,” in which participants shared their awareness that trustworthy relations with employers are essential for the realization of constructive industrial relations and made specific proposals, such as (1) gaining an understanding of global market trends and the business plans and financial condition of the company through forums for regular communication between labour and management; (2) contributing to improvements in productivity and quality by adopting the perspective of consumers and buyers so as to ensure competitiveness; (3) making reasonable wage demands and realizing labour’s share of company profits; (4) holding joint recreational activities transcending the barrier between labour and management toward the building of a win-win relationship; and (5) raising awareness among both employers and trade unionists regarding the usefulness of constructive industrial relations and promoting human resource development. The seminar came to a close after the Sri Lankan national centers and JILAF had commented on these proposals.


10/13TueSeminar day 1
10/14WedSeminar day 2

Photos of the Participants

Lecture by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon

Group presentations

Participants from the three Sri Lankan national centers