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

Group photo of speakers at the seminar in Colombo

JILAF held industrial relations and labour policy seminars in Colombo on September 26–27 and Nuwara Eliya on September 28–29 relating to the prevention of useless industrial disputes through the building of constructive industrial relations and the desired format of collective bargaining plus labour-management consultations based on relations of trust between labour and management. The seminar in Colombo was attended by 59 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 Nuwara Eliya was attended by 19 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 Commissioner General of Labour RPA Wimalaweera on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe on behalf of the EFC, and CWC Vice-President Sandaman Arulsamy, NTUF Secretary General Padmasiri Ranawakaarachchi, and SLNSS Secretary General Leslie Devendra on behalf of labour, 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 spoke about Japan’s constructive industrial relations, collective bargaining, and the labour-management consultation system. Among other topics, he explained (1) the transformation of industrial relations in Japan, (2) the character and balanced deployment of collective bargaining and labour-management consultations, (3) the acquisition of fair distribution through contributions to productivity improvement, (4) the strengthening of relations of trust with union members in the workplace and improvement of the working environment with a sense of ownership by labour and management, and (5) the importance of rallying and assembling the labour movement.

In the second plenary lecture, EFC Director General Weerasinghe spoke about industrial relations and collective bargaining issues from the standpoint of an employers’ organization, stating that the biggest issue in Sri Lanka was the lack of mutual trust. 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, Commissioner General of Labour Wimalaweera, speaking on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, talked about industrial relations and collective bargaining issues from the standpoint of the government. Among other topics, he emphasized 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, participated in discussions on the theme of “The building of constructive industrial relations and collective bargaining,” with national center executives acting as moderators. The national center sub-sessions also included mock collective bargaining, through which the participants deepened their understanding of effective collective bargaining and labour agreements.

In the seminar held in Nuwara Eliya, JILAF Secretary General Saito again gave an opening address, after which there was an address by the CWC’s new secretary general, Ms. Anusha Sivarajah, who expressed gratitude for the holding of the seminar in Nuwara Eliya.

After the opening, JILAF Secretary General Saito delivered the same lecture that he had given in Colombo. In light of the characteristics of Nuwara Eliya, where many cases of collisions between labour and management and unfair labour practices are reported, he 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.

Next, CWC Vice-President Arulsamy gave a lecture on issues in industrial relations and effective collective bargaining. As in Colombo, the participants then took part in mock collective bargaining, which deepened their understanding of the importance of (1) building trust and respect between labour and management, (2) trade unions considering not only wages but other demands as well, such as holidays, based on a correct understanding of the company’s financial situation, and (3) labour and management sometimes compromising in collective bargaining so as to bring about a win-win cycle.

Schedule

DateContents
09/26WedIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo
09/27ThuIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Colombo
09/28FriIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Nuwara Eliya
09/29SatIndustrial relations and labour policy seminar in Nuwara Eliya

Photos of the Participants

Opening ceremony of the Colombo seminar

Address by the employers’ organization at the Colombo seminar

Lecture by the government at the Colombo seminar

NTUF sub-session in Colombo

LNSS sub-session in Colombo

Mock collective bargaining during the CWC sub-session in Colombo

Presentation by participants in Colombo

Group photo at the Nuwara Eliya seminar

Opening ceremony of the Nuwara Eliya seminar

Lecture by JILAF at the Nuwara Eliya seminar

trategy meetings before mock collective bargaining during the Nuwara Eliya seminar

Mock collective bargaining during the Nuwara Eliya seminar