Ensure rights of FTZ workers – Civil Society Collective

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 21 2020

The Civil Society Collective for the Rights of Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Workers, in a letter to the Human Rights Commission, requested the latter to issue recommendations to ensure that the rights of workers are not violated by programmes to control COVID-19.

“Informal and coercive measures that have been taken by the health and security sectors to combat this pandemic, some of the irresponsible actions of officials who are responsible for controlling the situation and the stigmatisation that the workers of the FTZs are responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 have caused dire consequences and issues to the men and women workers of the FTZs. FTZs workers communities made up vastly of women are among the most vulnerable groups. Right now, the second wave of COVID-19 springs in the country from these FTZs. This development is a result of the severe lack of health security and poor living and work conditions that prevail throughout the FTZs. The Constitutionally guaranteed rights to information, to not to be subjected to degrading or discriminating treatments are no longer a reality for the men and women workers of the FTZs,” they said. 

“We request the Commission to carefully assess these developments and to issue recommendations to be followed through the COVID-19 control programmes in FTZs to ensure that these programmes are in accordance with the rights of the workers. We further request that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak, the Army, the Police and other institutions and mechanisms relevant to this matter be informed of these recommendations. We also call on the Commission to draw the attention of the Commissioner General of Labour to the issues of job security, the security of remunerations and other institutional issues which now prevail in the FTZs as a result of this pandemic. For this, we suggest to conduct a consultation meeting with various stakeholders. Such stakeholders may include representatives of the workers of FTZs, trade union officials, civil society representatives, officials of the Board of Investment, representatives of this Presidential Task Force, representatives of employers unions, security officials, health sector officials and officials of the Labour Department,” they added.

“As of now, the COVID-19 pandemic has developed not only into a public health issue but also a human rights crisis, especially in the FTZs. We would like to bring the following key issues which cause the crisis of human rights to attention, namely, hateful and degrading remarks, the denial of personal dignity, health related insecurities, job security and the security of remunerations, the lack of a responsible party on behalf of manpower employees, forced labour and the denial of leave, concern for the languages used in pandemic management, the denial of the freedom to join trade unions and military engagement,” they further said.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 21 2020

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