Trade union leaders from near 50 countries joined IndustriALL affiliates in Sri Lanka on 8 November to demonstrate against precarious work, showing the full force of the global union movement.
More than a hundred representatives of IndustriALL affiliates, together with workers from Sri Lankan trade unions, took to the streets of the capital Colombo to demand that the government implements amendments to Article 59A of the Wages Boards Ordinance.
The amendments seek to limit and restrict the employment of manpower workers (precarious third-party contract workers) in the core work of a business, and where the work is regular and permanent in nature. Unions in Sri Lanka want the amendments to be implemented to stamp out the prevalence of precarious contract work in the country.
“We are here to support our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka in their fight to limit the use of manpower, to limit the use of contract workers,” said IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches.
IndustriALL President Jörg Hofmann, also addressed the crowd, declaring precarious work as a disease of our time affecting workers on a global scale. He said:
“The whole world is in solidarity with workers in Sri Lanka. The global trade union movement supports your demands for decent work and living wages. Agency work, contract work, short-term jobs increase insecurity for all workers. We want to stop this practice in Sri Lanka. We want to stop this practice in Asia. We want to stop this practice all over the world.”
Though the amendment was proposed in 2009, it was the first big demonstration calling for its implementation. IndustriALL’s five trade union affiliates in Sri Lanka took part.
Valter Sanches also used the demonstration to give backing to Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status that gives preferential trade tariffs for the country’s exports to the European Union.
“We are here to support the government to keep GSP+ status as long as they ensure that all the working conditions, labour rights and the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining are respected.”
IndustriALL is holding its Executive Committee meeting in Colombo from 8-9 November, which will include participation from affiliates in countries from Brazil to Belarus, and Norway to Nepal.