Promoting labor rights in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is one of the rare developing countries in the region that has had in place, by law, a pension and social safety net for workers. But a recent study reveals that for more than two-thirds of workers, employers are not paying into the funds the Daily News reports:

The study in Jaffna revealed that for more than two-thirds of workers, their employers are not paying into the funds. This was disclosed by a recent study conducted by the Solidarity Center titled, “Workers in Post-Civil War Jaffna“….. In Jaffna, 81 percent of workers across a range of professions have no written contract spelling out their working conditions; much less have an opportunity to engage in collective bargaining.

“A key element to address conflict is equal treatment under the law,” says Tim Ryan, the center’s Asia director, who presented the survey’s findings during a recent discussion of the report at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C.

According to Ryan, the survey seeks to provide economic data on workers in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka that go beyond employment statistics. “Are they finding ways to both protect their rights under the law? Are laws and standards being equitably enforced?”

The US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) is to fund promoting labor rights in Sri Lanka:

DRL announced an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that support the policy objective of promoting internationally recognized labor rights.

In South Asia and the Gulf, DRL seeks to promote migrant workers’ rights on both ends of the migration corridor. The State Department says projects should propose creative and comprehensive interventions that advance migrant worker rights at all stages of the migration process, including by advancing new partnerships and technology to promote migrant workers’ rights.


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