PROGRAME NO Quickening

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Prepared by :      Manjula Perera

                    COUNTRY REPORT

In the Mahavamsa( The chronicle literature has long been considered a work of sixth century AD
) that irreplaceable source for the reconstruction of the early history of the island, the story of man
in Sri Lanka begins with the arrival there, something in the fifth century BC, of Vijaya ( The
legendary founding father of the Sinhalese) and his turbulent companions -700 in all- who had
been banished for misconduct from the Kingdom of Sihapura in North India by
Sihabahu,Vijaya’s father. Beneath this charming exercise in myth-making lurks a kernel of
historical truth-the colonialisation of the island by Indo-Aryan immigrants to Sri Lanka was
probably north-west India and the Indus region. Rich from the cultural heritage with a history of
more than 2500 years still continues to be a sovereign nation despite several internal social and
ethnicity problems.

In the first decade of the twentieth century there was a perceptible quickening in the political
activity in the island after the near immobility in formal politics in the last quarter of the

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a developing third world country in the Indian
ocean belonging to the South Asian contingent which gained independence in 1948 from the
British Crown.As a small Island with limited resources the economy has always been dominated
by the external forces.Hence we are compelled to accept the current trends of Globalization with
or without reparation.

Socio Economic condition
The persisting or even widening gap between the developed countries on one hand and
developing countries on the other has not prevented the establishment of further linkages between
the two sets of countries under the influence of diverse forces of globalization. Abandonment of
protectionist , state-led development policies in these countries , coupled with the IT revolution
has facilitated the flow of consumer goods, capital, cultural goods labour and ideas across
national boundaries.Many people , both well-to-do as well as poor,tend to seek livelihood
opportunities,away from the native places ,in larger cities and foreign countries.Such migration is
as much encouraged by sheer economic needs as by newly acquired consumer aspirations.The
adoption of liberal economic policies has led to significant changes in the economy and the social
structure.Relative significance of rural income sources, in particular,agriculture,has decreased
while urban industrial and service sector employment has become more significant in terms of
income and other opportunities. Similarly, the relative significance of private sector employment
has also increased.
Sri Lanka’s economy registered an annual growth of 5.4% in the real Gross Domestic Product (
GDP ) in 2004.

Basic Statistics.

Population and Vital statistics.

Population ( 2004 )                              19,462,000

Age Distribution                                 0-14 Years                        5,185,000
                                                 15-64 Years                      13,031,000
                                                 65 and over                       1,246,000

Literacy rate                                    Overall                          92.5%
                                                 Male                             94.5%
                                                 Female                           90.6%

Employment                                       Employed persons                 7,305,000
( Sector vise )                                  Agriculture                      34.1%
                                                 Industry                         21.4%
                                                 Services                         44.5%

Labour Force                                                                      7,984,000

Labour force participation rate.( Labour force a s a percentage of house hold population)

By Age group                                     10-14Years                       -
                                                 15-19                            23.1
                                                 20-24                            66.0
                                                 25-29                            69.5
                                                 30-34                            67.3
                                                 35-39                            67.3
                                                 40-60 Years and above 50.1

By Sex                                           Male                             65.7
                                                 Female                           31.0

Status of Employment ( As a percentage of total employed)

Public Sector                             12.9
Private Sector                            47.2
Self-Employed                      28.7
Unpaid Family Workers              8.8
Employers                                 2.4
Strikes in Private Sector Industries ( During the Financial Year of 2004)

No. of Strikes                            90
Workers Involved                          33,346

After independence in 1948 many political parties come in to being with different strategies,
however it seemed that the Communist parties were the force that touched the hearts of working
community and obviously so. There for Trade Union movement in its early days had strong links
with communism and the political leaders freely used trade unions to achieve their political
desires. Unfortunately this trend continues even to day that the main or the largest Trade unions
are being controlled by invisible arms of many parties to achieve their personal desires.

Sri Lanka had ratified all core conventions of ILO and also a state that has ratified 24 other
conventions and stay ahead of many other nations of the South Asian sub continent. However
application of same is something that should be questioned. To support the statement we could
look in to the violations of the formalities of many ratified conventions.

Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
(ratification: 1972)

There had been many cases of anti-union discrimination aimed to prevent the establishment or
recognition of trade unions. Even though the adoption of the Industrial Disputes Act of December
1999 (which affords protection to workers against acts of anti-union discrimination in taking up
employment and in the course of employment), without an appropriate response. Adequate
protection is not provided in practice, as there are no time limits required of labour authorities
within which complaints should be made to the Magistrate’s Court (after a complaint has been
brought to the Department of Labour) and maximum penalties for unfair labour practices are too
low to provide sufficient deterrence. Department of Labour has not yet taken any legal action in
order to penalize employers on the ground of anti-union discrimination or interference. The
matter has been brought before the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) by one trade
union for discussion and the Commissioner General of Labour advised the union to bring the
individual cases before him with a view to taking legal action. Section 4(2) of the Industrial
Disputes (Amendment) Act of December 1999 provides that any contravention of the provisions
concerning anti-union discrimination shall be punished by a fine not exceeding 20,000 rupees.
Trade unions should be able to have direct access to the courts in order to have their complaints
examined by the judicial authorities if they so wish.

In the case of collective bargaining in free trade zones. There had been many cases of refusal to
recognize a representative trade union by employers both inside and outside the free trade zones,
without any effective enforcement action being taken. 40 per cent threshold established in the
law for the compulsory recognition of trade unions constitutes in practice the threshold required
for a trade union to be established at the workplace with employers engaging in various tactics in
order to avoid such recognition (in particular, changing the lists of employees, as the vote carried
out to determine the representativeness is based on a list furnished by the employer).With regard
to collective bargaining in EPZs in particular, according to the information provided by the
Government, sections 9 and 15 of the Labour Standards and Employment Relations Manual of
the Board of Investment (BOI), which is the overseeing authority of the EPZs, contain provisions
to facilitate the conclusion of collective agreements. Two collective agreements were registered
in the Biyagama and Koggala EPZs in 2004 (another two were already in force), while
negotiations are in progress in three enterprises. In addition to this, two Memoranda of
Understanding on dispute settlement procedure have been signed in the Katunayake EPZ. The
Government adds that there is a trend towards unionization in EPZs with nine trade unions
covering approximately 10 per cent of the EPZ workforce.

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)
(ratification: 2001)
The recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and child domestic workers have been
increased in an alarming phase. Sri Lanka is both a country of origin and of destination of
trafficked persons, mainly women and children, for the purposes of forced labour and sexual
exploitation. Section 360A of the Penal Code as amended by Act No. 22 of 1995 and Act No. 29
of 1998 provides that whoever
 procures or attempts to procure any person under 16 years of age to leave Sri Lanka (whether
with or without the consent of such persons) with a view to illicit sexual intercourse with any
person outside Sri Lanka, or removes or attempts to remove from Sri Lanka any such person
(whether with or without the consent of such person) for the said purpose;
procures or attempts to procure any person of whatever age to leave Sri Lanka (with or without
the consent of such person) with intent that such person may become the inmate of, or frequent, a
brothel elsewhere, or removes or attempts to remove from Sri Lanka any such person for the said
brings or attempts to bring into Sri Lanka any person under 16 years of age with a view to illicit
sexual intercourse with any other person in Sri Lanka or outside Sri Lanka, commits the offence
of procuration and shall, on conviction,
be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not exceeding ten years
and may also be punished with a fine.
Regarding trafficking of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, apply only to children
below 16 years of age. By virtue of Article 3(a) of the Convention, the sale and trafficking of
children under the age of 18 years is considered to be one of the worst forms of child labour, and
that under the terms of Article 1 of the Convention, each Member which ratifies the Convention
shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst
forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. So far we were not been able to set up an effective
procedure to that extent.

Sri Lanka has been the scene of an armed conflict between the Government and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since 1983. Although there are efforts to move towards peace, it is
not clear that these will be successful. Attention is drawn to the Amnesty International Report of
2003, which indicates that LTTE had recruited hundreds of persons under 18 years of age, some
as young as 10 years old. According to Amnesty’s report, at the end of 2002, the Sri Lankan
Monitoring Mission ruled that 313 cases out of 603 complaints regarding child recruitment were
violations of the Cease Fire Agreement. Many LTTE child recruits are forced or compelled to
join the forces.However, many children say that they “volunteered”. Factors which contribute to
such voluntary acts, such as the existence of armed conflict or a military environment itself;
poverty; lack of access to education and/or viable and appropriate work; and an abusive or
exploitative home situation. These child recruits are trained to handle live munitions, and are
engaged in armed conflict with the risk of serious injury or death.
According to the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on children and armed
Demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers from the ranks of LTTE should be accorded
priority attention. However, according to the “Rapid Assessment Study on the Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children” published by ILO/IPEC in February 2002, a factor that has
aggravated the situation of children is the ongoing civil war in the country. About 900,000
children in the north and east of Sri Lanka are directly affected by the war and many more
affected indirectly. The armed conflict has displaced an estimated 380,000 children and many of
them repeatedly. Most of the displaced children are removed from their family and relatives and
are forced to work for their survival. Government indicated that Sri Lanka’s authorities estimate
that at least 60 per cent of LTTE fighters are below the age of 18 years. Estimates of LTTE cadres
killed in combat reveal that at least 40 per cent of the fighting force consists of girls and boys
between the ages of 9 and 18 years. Children are well known to be used for both gathering
intelligence and in combat. They form the first wave of suicide attacks carried out by LTTE
against their targets. Children are used in all activities of armed combat except in leadership
positions. Forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict is considered to
be one of the worst forms of child labour, and that under the terms of Article 1 of the Convention,
immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of
child labour shall be taken as a matter of urgency. Government should redouble its efforts to
improve the situation.

Child prostitution in Sri Lanka has been the other main concern, there are reports of boys between
8 and 15 being forced into prostitution. Also Government estimates the number of child
prostitutes at around 2,000, although other sources estimate the number to be much higher. The
Protecting Environment And Children Everywhere Organization (PEACE–an NGO),
reports that at least 5,000 children in the age bracket of 8 to 15 are exploited as sex workers, in
particular in certain coastal resort areas. The Government indicates that the Penal Code has been
amended by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1995 and by the Penal Code
(Amendment) Act No. 29 of 1998 in order to curb obscene publications, and eliminate the
use, procuring or offering of children for prostitution. Consequently, section 360A of the Penal
Code as amended by Act No. 22 of 1995 and Act No. 29 of 1998 provides that whoever:
procures or attempts to procure, any person, whether male or female of whatever age (whether
with or without the consent of such person) to become within or outside Sri Lanka, a prostitute;
procures or attempts to procure any person of whatever age (whether with or without their
consent)to leave such person’s usual place of abode in Sri Lanka with a view to illicit sexual
intercourse within or outside Sri Lanka;
detains any person without the consent of such person in any premises with a view to illicit sexual
intercourse or sexual abuse, commits the offence of procuration and shall, on conviction, be
punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not exceeding ten years and
may also be punished with a fine. Section 360B of the Penal Code provides penalties for the
sexual exploitation of children below 18 years (imprisonment for a term not less than five years
and not exceeding 20 years and may also be punished with fine). Furthermore, section 288A of
the Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 29 of 1998 makes provisions to penalize any person who
knowingly hires, employs, persuades, uses, induces or coerces a child to procure any person for
illicit sexual intercourse (imprisonment for a term not less than five years and not exceeding
seven years and may also be liable to a fine).
According to a campaign research study held by PEACE (a local NGO with collaboration by
government institutions) about 10,000 children in the age group of 6-14 years are sexually
exploited for commercial purposes. The commercial sexual exploitation of children flourished as
a trade, because of the Government’s support towards the development of the tourist industry and
also because law enforcement against such criminal activities was very weak. programmes under
which the abused children are provided with job-oriented training.

Child domestic workers have been another serious issue to be addressed. Some 19,000 children
work as domestic workers, 70 per cent being girls and 79 per cent from rural areas. It is also
known that there are reports of some rural children employed in debt bondage as domestic
servants in urban households and of child domestic servants being employed in 8.6 per cent of
homes in the southern province. They are often deprived of education and subject to physical,
sexual and emotional abuse.

Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) (ratification: 1993)

A Gross violation of this convention persists in Sri Lanka, many employers adopt the managerial
strategy of recruiting workers on performance based wage scales. Although it is obvious that this
kind of a recruitment system would require when facing the open market economy and
globalization, however the dark side is employers exploit these provisions to achieve their
profitability targets leaving employees in hell. This issue needs immediate attention from the
authorities as well as international bodies.

The trade union movement in Sri Lanka has been replenished with the involvement of young
activists. However there has been a dominance of certain leaders who had been therefore a
considerable period. If provisions could be made among the trade unions to get together and work
on a common vision, results would be fruitful in years to come.


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