By Sarah HannanThe Ministry of Labour is considering amending a handful of labour laws to expedite the hearing of grievance cases of the country’s workforce which seems to have created a backlog at magistrate courts.During a recent discussion between the Department of Labour and Minister of Labour Nimal Siripala de Silva, the Minister had announced that amendments are to be applied to the Employees’ Provident Fund Act to the Labour Tribunal, Payment of Gratuity Act, Wage Boards Ordinance, Shop and Office Employees Act, and Budgetary Relief Allowance of Workers Act of 2016, enabling Labour Tribunals to attend to the grievances that are filed with reference to workforce compensation matters.“The Rs. 550,000 currently being paid under the Employees’ (Workmen’s) Compensation Ordinance, which was a longstanding demand of trade unions and the working people, will be increased to Rs. 2 million, and the power to hear such cases will be handed over to Labour Tribunals,” de Silva had said.Meanwhile, the National Trade Union Front (NTUF) noted that most of these amendments that are proposed to be applied would be beneficial to the employer and not the employee.“The Minister says that the compensation would be increased, but only the employee would know the hardships they would have to go through just to claim that compensation. Amendments need to be proposed with the consultation of trade unions as well. However, we have not been approached by a private or state official regarding this,” NTUF Co-Convenor Ravi Kumudesh noted.Kumudesh and the rest of the members noted that a dialogue needs to take place between ministry officials, Department of Labour officials, and trade unions that represent the various sectors in order to truly understand the issues that they have been facing – namely, salary increments to be duly processed, career progression in state institutes, and the ability to be promoted to higher administrative positions based on work experience and grades in the respective carder.