Sri Lanka - Anti-union discrimination in the free trade zones

An independent trade union alliance, consisting of six trade unions, organised a protest on 22 June 2016 in front of the main gate of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ), the biggest FTZ in Sri Lanka, to protest at anti-union discrimination and labour rights abuses. The collective of independent unions included the FTZ and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), Ceylon Mercantile and General Workers Union (CMU) and United Federation of Labour Ceylon Bank Employees Union, Union of Postal and Telecommunication Employees and Women’s Solidarity Union.

Employers in FTZs had increased pressure on unions and their members, including refusal to recognise unions, a public campaign to malign unions, discriminatory shop floor practices, intimidation, threats of physical attack, suspensions and dismissals. Many FTZ employers had yet to provide the pay hike of Rs 2000 (USD 13), which was announced by the government earlier in year.

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