Industrial Disputes Bill approved by Consultative Committee

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The Industrial Disputes (Special Provisions) Bill, published in the Gazette dated 8 April 2022, was brought to the notice of the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Labour and Foreign Employment, which met under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment, Manusha Nanayakkara.

At present, according to the Industrial Disputes Act, in cases where an employer has terminated an employee, only the process finalisation of such termination is dealt with under a Labour Tribunal. In cases where the employers do not agree or violate the provisions of various Acts pertaining to the EPF, wages, other terms and conditions, litigation will be instituted in Magistrate Courts.

The main problem that arises here is that more than 16,000 cases have been filed in about 80 Magistrate Courts functioning islandwide. It was also said that it would take a long time for the aggrieved workers to get some justice and if the cases were referred to the 37 established tribunals islandwide, which are presently conducting very small proceedings, the aggrieved party would be able to expedite justice.

Therefore, it was emphasised that the Act would delegate the powers of prosecution to the Chairmen of Labour Tribunals. It was further said the Labour Tribunals had been given the aforesaid power in the past as well and that many cases could be settled expeditiously and those powers were later abolished.

It was further said the Minister in charge of the subject will take steps to discuss with the trade unions the measures required to protect both the employer and the employee in the event of any factory closure due to specific economic conditions in the future.

The Bill was approved by the Ministerial Consultative Committee and will be taken up for debate at the next Parliamentary Week.

Thereafter, it was said at the Consultative Committee that although special training programmes for foreign employment are being conducted islandwide, which are presently receiving a lot of attention, such programmes are not being implemented in the Jaffna District.

Therefore, the Minister instructed the relevant authorities to take immediate steps to implement language training programmes in the Jaffna District.