Thursday, October 27, 2011

Issues faced by workers at a garment factory who were suddenly terminated

A delegation came this morning to consult and ask for assistance in how they could resolve the dilemma from 550 being suddenly terminated due to the closure of their garment factory, ostensibly due to lack of orders. We spent some time explaining the options available to them along with guidance on what they have to do in order to obtain some form of redress. They were fed various stories about what their rights were. The employer taking advantage of their lack of knowledge and not being organized was willing to issue statements to the effect that they were unable to pay any compensation, and told them to take legal action if they so wish.

The difficulty in these situations is to convene all the affected people and get them to organize themselves into a group that can work towards achieving the objective they have set themselves. Different people want different things as they are as diverse as the population around us. We found it quite hard to convince them to form one organization and appoint a committee to deal with the issues. Explaining that it was first necessary to collect a fund to move forward was in itself a difficult notion. Rs 200 from each person would give a fund in excess of Rs100,000 to cover the various costs involved.

In turn they must understand that some people are boarded in homes as their villages are a long distance away, they have other costs after they lose their jobs. They may have to return home, so it was essential that this be done without delay. Many have bought items on the installment plan and have a deduction made from their pay for items organizations sell by coming to the workplace. How to they make these payments as they do not know who the payment should be made to either. All the information on the people is needed to be gathered before they disperse if some form of claim is to be made on behalf of all of them, which is the most practical way of fairly handling the claim.

We must remember that like in any claim there are those who have worked at this organization for 20 years whose claim far exceeds those who have worked for a year or two and so the former have a bigger stake in obtaining redress.

Most of all we thought that obtaining a job as soon as possible would be critical and we called round to set them up with alternative employment. We found an employer who could give jobs to 300 experienced workers if they were willing to relocate to Ratmalana. Only those who were boarded were willing to move, the others wanted employment in areas they live. There is no such place as a job bank in localities to assist with employment, such as is available in developed nations.

1 comment:

Jack Point said...

I think the external sector is heading for hard times. The recession in Europe will hurt garments, tourism and our other exports.

High inflation, which drives up wages, an uncompetitive exchange rate do not help either.

Smoothing regulations, simplifying/reducing taxes at point of import and export will also help the sector.

At the moment the State views the private sector purely as a source of tax but they are slowly killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

They scoffed at GSP+, we were very lucky last year. Turmoil in the Mid East sent Egyptian and Jordanian garment orders to SL. Strikes in Bangladesh did the same, so our exports were not too badly off, but this advantage was temporary. We will feel its impact in the next couple of years.