May 29, Colombo: Commissioner General of Labor Prabath Chandrakeerthi yesterday strongly denied allegations made by Free Trade Zone and General Workers’ Union regarding the spread of COVID-19 in factories.
Issuing a statement Commissioner General of Labor said the Department of Labor pays continuous attention to the problems of not only the employees of the garment factories but all employees of the private sector and will intervene whenever necessary.
Following is the statement issued by the Commissioner General of Labor.
First of all, I reject the incorrect and malicious statement made by the Free Trade Zone and General Workers’ Union that the Department of Labor should be held responsible for the spread of COVID-19 in factories throughout the country.
Recently, an investigation was conducted in the Thulhiriya MAS Fabric Park on the instructions of the Labor Minister, as a large number of employees were found to be COVID–19 positive. Accordingly, it had been reported that the institution had complied with the health guidelines of the Department of Labor and that the Health Committee had met once a week and had paid constant attention to the health of the employees.
Furthermore, they had followed health security measures, such as wearing masks, using sanitizers, inhaling steam and sanitizing the sewing machines after each roster. However, it has been reported that not only the employees but also the higher management of the institution have also become victims of the disease.
Therefore, it is apparent that the statement made by Anton Marx that the COVID-19 virus has spread throughout the Thulhiriya MAS Fabric Park as a result of the non-establishment of health committees is a statement without scientific basis. The Department of Labor has provided necessary instructions to factory owners for the establishment of health committees and constantly created awareness through the Employers’ Federation as well as Media.
Further, I would like to mention that in spite of the fact that Anton Marx had been informed to notify the Department of Labor of factories that have not established health committees, he had not informed me of any such institution up to now. In addition to this, a request was made from the owners of private establishments to ensure pregnant mothers are not called into work, which had already been provided to the pregnant mothers of the public sector.
Furthermore, a request had also been made to give priority to the employees of the private sector who contribute immensely towards the economy of the country in the vaccination program.
All employers and employees are requested to adhere to the health guidelines issued and to be issued in future by the Health Services Department.
Accordingly, I kindly inform you that the Department of Labor pays continuous attention to the problems of not only the employees of the garment factories but all employees of the private sector and will intervene whenever necessary.
Therefore, I would like to point out that it is essential for all of us to cooperate with one another and eradicate this pandemic rather than making accusations against others.