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Missed opportunity for trade union rights in Sri Lanka

27 Apr 2017

Missed opportunity for trade union rights in Sri Lanka

Foto: SP

The SP has expressed its disappointment at the European Parliament's refusal to increase pressure on the Sri Lankan government in response to the trade advantages on offer to the island nation. During her working visit to Sri Lanka earlier this month, SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Miner received strong promises that there would be improvements to the human rights situation, and in particular trade union rights. Mineur will be urging European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to ensure that these commitments are carried out.

'Sri Lanka is to receive important trade advantages,' Mineur explains.'These take the form of hugely reduced duties on imports into the European Union. A condition attached to this is that the country take major steps in relation to human rights, trade union rights, the environment and good governance. Sri Lanka has put into force all twenty-seven conventions demanded of it, but in practice there's still a great deal wrong in the country. I've spoken with dozens of workers and their stories were really disturbing, involving considerable violation of human rights, the active undermining of trade unions and a failure to extend any of the gains from trade advantages to the workforce.'

Mineur had secured commitments from the government which would considerably improve the position of trade unions and workers. A resolution which she brought before the European Parliament, however, aimed at delaying the introduction of trade advantages until Sri Lanka's promises are made good, was rejected. 'So Sri Lanka is being rewarded before it's delivered,' she says. 'That sends completely the wrong signal.'

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