Feb 19, Colombo: Since the loss of European Union's tariff concession Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) to Sri Lanka over 180 garment factories have closed their doors to employees, a union leader has said.
Anton Marcus, convener and the General Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees' Union (FTZ&GSEU) said that the loss of GSP + concessions has led to the recent closure of 186 garment factories.
He also pointed out that almost 217,000 workers have lost their jobs.
The trade union leader said that the island had 835 garment factories in 2000 and the number was reduced to 500 by 2004. The industry had employed million workers in 2000 but now it only employs 283,000.
However, the income from the garment industry had increased since less workers are working more to offset the decline.
He also admitted that the industry has changed the strategy and now focus on specialized high-end more expensive designer garments rather than the simple finished garments it exported earlier.
The European Union, citing Sri Lanka's failure to meet human rights conventions relevant for benefits under the scheme, in August 2010, suspended the GSP+ tariff concession for Sri Lanka that provided tax free access to European markets for the country's products, especially for garment exports.