Bring our law in line with the National Workers’ Charter and ILO Conventions

By T.M.R.RasseedinPresident – Ceylon Federation of Labour (CFL)
- This Article captured from Business Times. (
Sri Lanka has come under close scrutiny on the implementation of internationally recognised core labour standards particularly in relation to ILO C.87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise) of 1948 adopted by Sri Lanka in 1995 and C. 98 of 1948 (The Right to organise and Collective Bargaining ratified by Sri Lanka in 1972).
The Workers Charter promulgated by the then Head of State Chandrika Kumaratunga on September 2, 1995 as state policy in the field of labour and labour relations states in its preamble that Sri Lanka is committed to the ideals enshrined in the declarationof Philadelphia in 1944 and to Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the ILO. It provides, in categorical terms, in Part 1 of the Workers Charter provisions relating to “Basic Human Rights, Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise and Bargaining Collectively.” The incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa played a pivotal role as the then Minister of Labour and Vocational Training in the preparation of the National Workers Charter.
The Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act No.56 of 1999 was specially intended to give effect to the aforementioned provision in the Workers Charter. In its working it has now been realised that Act No. 56 of 1999 falls short of the original expectations of the framers to meet the requirements contained in ILO Conventions No.87 and No.98 and the National Workers Charter. Hence, the unions in the NLAC are engaged in the exercise to revisit and revise I.D. (Amendment) Act No. 56 of 1999 to bring it in line with the requirements mentioned above. It is the considered opinion of the writer that no amount of tinkering with the present legislation will produce the desired result. What is really needed is the complete repeal of Act No. 56 of 1999 and its replacement with a new law that will be consistent with the National Workers’ Charter and ILO Conventions: C 87 and C 98.

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