Parliament debates labour bills amidst opposition protests
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 January 2003, 16:32 GMT]
The parliament began Tuesday debating the four controversial labour bills
amidst several protest meetings held in Colombo and several other places in the
south organized by trade unions affiliated to opposition parties and independent trade unions. The main protest
campaign held Tuesday in front of the Peopleís Bank Headquarters in Colombo.
More than thousand workers gathered and shouted slogans holding placards to
remove bills from the parliament immediately, trade union
The controversial labour bills now being debated in parliament are the Termination of Employment of Workmen (Special Provisions Amendment) Bill, the Industrial
Disputes (Hearing and Determination of Proceedings (Special Provisions)
Bill, the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Bill and the Employment of Women,
Young Persons and Children (Amendment) Bill.
Tabling the amended labour bills, Minister of Employment and Labour
Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the sole objective of introducing the
draft bills related to labour issues is to re-schedule outdated labour laws
in the country and bring them in conformance to international charter.
Minister Mr. Samarasinghe added some persons oppose the draft bills to
embarrass the Sri Lanka government at a time multinationals are showing
renewed interest in investing in the island.
A former labour minister in the then Peopleís Alliance government
Mr.W.D.J.Seneviratne said the UNF government has brought these tough labour
laws to please the International Monetary Fund and such laws are certainly
against the welfare of the working class.
A UNF parliamentarian Mr.Hemakumara Nanayakkara said the opposition members
are acting without a proper sense of understanding about the benefits
draft labour laws will bring.
JVP parliamentarian Mr. Vijitha Heart said the labour bills are designed to
look after the interest of the private sector and not of the working class.
New laws will undermine workers rights and give too much power to
employers, he said.
PA parliamentarian Mr.S. Sathasivam said private sector would be empowered
to exploit maximum the rights of the working class if the bills are passed.
Minister Mr.Gamini Lokuge said bills are brought to assist the working
class to get redress for their grievances without being dragged for months.