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 People’s Bank Headquarters in Colombo.

More than thousand workers gathered and shouted slogans holding placards to remove bills from the parliament immediately, trade union sources said.

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.

Trade Union preotest.


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Samarasinghe said that the sole objective of introducing the draft bills related to labour issues is to re-schedule outdated labour laws in the country and bring them in conformance to international charter.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 People’s 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.

Trade Union preotest.

 

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