The public hearing by the US State Department on alleged violations of labour rights in Sri Lanka will be held in Washington on Tuesday where statements from representatives of the Sri Lankan government and Trade Unions would be recorded, government sources said yesterday
Free Trade Zone Workers Union (FTZWU) President Anton Marcus who complained to the State Department said he would also be testifying at the inquiry.
Labour Ministry Secretary Mahinda Madihahewa said a six-member team comprising Commerce Director General Gomis Senadheera Deputy Director Gothami Indikadahewa External Affairs Ministry Acting DG Varuni Muthukumarana Labour Ministry Senior Legal Advisor Poshitha Perera External Affairs Ministry Assistant Director R.P.Wimalasena Labour Ministry Senior Assistant Secretary U.S. Athukorala would represent Sri Lanka at the public hearing.
Mr. Madihahewa said the government team left for US early last morning. Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya President Lesley Devendra will represent government sector trade unions.
The State Department had initiated action against Sri Lanka based on a petition to America Free Labour Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) by the FTZWU. The matter has serious implications since it could put the United States GSP concessions to Sri Lanka in jeopardy.
A three-member US trade representative delegation visited Sri Lanka in August on a fact finding mission to collect information on Sri Lanka`s alleged labour rights violations and submitted a report to the State Department. The US team discussed the issue with officials of the Labour, Trade and Commerce, Foreign Affairs and the FTZWU.
Mr. Marcus said the complaint deals with the serious and deliberate violation of labour rights by the government with a special mention on the blockade for collective bargaining and right to association within the Free Trade Zone in particular.
The complaint has reportedly highlighted the collapsed trade union action by teachers and port employees after the Supreme Court dismissed the FR petition filed by them.