Education International
Education International

Sri Lanka: Seminar focused on union role in national legislation

published 18 December 2013 updated 19 December 2013

National laws, especially on gender issues, came under the spotlight at an International Labour Organisation (ILO)/National Laws Seminar evaluation and planning meeting attended by six EI affiliates from Sri Lanka. The seminar was organised by EI and its Norwegian affiliate, UEN, in Colombo, from 13-15 December.

Sixty participants from EI’s Sri Lanka affiliates - CTTU, ACUT, ACUET, ACUT (G), USLS, and SLITU - attended the seminar which dealt with ILO Core Conventions and national legislation.

The ILO Conventions were presented by Shyama Salgado, Senior Programme Officer (Employment) for the ILO Country Office in Sri Lanka, and focussed, in particular, on gender, child labour, green jobs and youth employment issues.

The implications for national laws, particularly those related to gender issues, were discussed by Shyamali Ranaraja, a practicing attorney specialising in labour and employment law, and a former external consultant to the ILO and the World Bank.

Full implementation of ILO conventions and national laws crucial

The seminar aims were to facilitate participants to:

·         Understand ILO Core Conventions, especially where Sri Lanka has ratified the conventions, and consider how successfully Sri Lanka is implementing them

·         Discuss problems and challenges faced by Sri Lanka in this context, and consider how teachers’ unions can play an important role in the ratification and, more importantly, the implementation of ILO core conventions

·         Discuss national laws, and the extent to which union members are aware of laws/legal limitations on gender issues and how unions can contribute to changing national laws, if necessary

·         Develop contacts with resource persons for future seminars or trainings

Better relationship with government is required

Salgado suggested that trade unions insist that their relationships with Government be based on the potential for mutual benefit. Both presenters outlined how unions can bridge gaps in laws by ratifying and implementing ILO conventions and national laws. Participants were informed that the ILO is a tripartite organisation, involving Governments, employers, and trade unions. Fundamental rights and the Constitution were also discussed by the presenters.

Ranaraja further informed participants about the Gender Inequality Index in the 2013 Sri Lanka Human Development Report.

Trade unionists requested a follow-up seminar onthe Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and also urged EI to liaise with affiliates on training of trainers for women leaders on national laws and ILO conventions.

EI: Seminar will help unions to build own capacity

“We welcome the unity that was shown by Sri Lankan member organisations in participating in this seminar and their efforts to develop their capacities to deal with these topics” said EI Chief Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific Shashi Bala Singh. “This will help them to ensure quality education in their country. We also commend our Norwegian colleagues for supporting such beneficial development cooperation activities for their colleagues in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.”