Monday, 30 March 2020 12:08

Government looks after employees during COVID-19 crisis

The Government has initiated action to protect employees and address private sector business challenges and risks during COVID-19 crisis period, official source said. 

, Minister of Labour Dinesh Gunawardena recently convened a special ministerial tripartite meeting and decided to appoint a tripartite task force to deal with matters arising of the COVID-19 impact on workers and employers.

At the first ministerial level tripartite meeting, a decision was taken to direct employers to seek the consent of the Commissioner General of Labour if there is any need for the closure of the company because of the crisis.

The need to encourage employees to work from home and preparing guidelines on occupational health to address the present crisis situation was emphasised by the participants at the meeting.

The Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) had pledged to follow the instructions of the government carefully in the future as well.

It was also agreed to continue essential services of the private sector that is important in the current situation and the country’s economy without compromising the health of the workers.

Minister Gunawardena noted that the government instructions on work from home should be interpreted in a broader sense.

The intention of the government is to let employees of essential and important sectors to continue while other sectors can consider work from home without resorting to a complete shutdown, he said.

The EFC has also agreed to pay salaries and wages of private sector employees including the daily paid employees without considering their absence from duty as leave.

Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ-GSEU) Joint Secretary Anton Marcus said that trade unions will be making several requests for the benefit of apparel workers in addition to the decisions taken at the tripartite task force meeting.

Apparel companies are now compelled to declare holidays for workers with pay or not as the foreign buyers and reputed brands have withdrawn their orders.

Therefore the trade unions have requested the government to introduce COVID-19 income support scheme to provide financial support to apparel workers and companies affected by the crisis.

He said that the government should take the responsibility of ensuring the payment of back wages for employees if they reopen factories and all workers should be re-employed without any victimisation.



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