Employment terminations in pvt. sector: TUs lock horns with Government

o No official terminations: Govt.
o Terminations continuing: TUs

Despite the large-scale employee terminations seen in the last two months within the private sector, the Government insists that no official terminations have been made following its instructions.

Inter Company Employees’ Union (ICEU) President Wasantha Samarasinghe told The Sunday Morning that employee terminations were still continuing and that change in legislation was essential.

“Even though the Department of Labour had instructed not to terminate, it is still being done. The Government must properly intervene and amend existing laws to ensure no more ad hoc terminations are allowed,” Samarasinghe said.

He went on to say that over a million would be unemployed due to Covid-19 if the trend continued.

“At the end of April, some 200,000, especially in the free trade zones (FTZs), have lost their jobs. If this isn’t stopped, more than a million would lose jobs in the next two to three months,” he said.

Nevertheless, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Skills Development, Employment, and Labour Relations Dinesh Gunawardena said that according to the agreement reached between relevant stakeholders, companies would find an alternative to termination.

“According to the agreement reached between the Employers’ Federation (of Ceylon) and trade unions, everyone will remain on the payroll and there won’t be any discontinuation of work. There could be some companies or such ventures which have obstacles or difficulties because of unique situations, but they have also been told to discuss the matter, and we don’t expect ad hoc actions by any of the parties that have agreed,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industrial Exports, Investment Promotion, Tourism, and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga said that it was unacceptable that terminations were being made after only one month of inactivity.

“We cannot in any way agree that they should be terminating employees as a result of a halt in operations for just one month. They earned huge profits all this time, so they can’t just take harsh decisions such as this. It is normal for companies to incur losses at such times. We are looking at how these companies will engage in their discussions with their staff,” Ranatunga said, adding that private companies must find a compromise and/or alternative to terminating employees.

By Skandha Gunasekara