Garment factories follow health guidelines - Labour Commissioner | Sunday Observer
Union leaders’ allegations debunked

Garment factories follow health guidelines - Labour Commissioner

2 May, 2021

Despite the various allegations of union leaders related to the apparel sector, 95% of the garment factories in the country function under strict Covid-19 guidelines, the Commissioner of Labour, Prabhath Chandrakeerthi told Sunday Observer Business.

The Commissioner made these remarks commenting on a statement made by the Joint Secretary Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, Anton Marcus, who alleged (during a brief interview with Sunday Observer Business), that only two of over 360 garment factories adhere to Covid guidelines.

“I categorically deny these allegations,” Chandrakeerthi said.  

According to him, the majority of the garment factories have safety committees which take care of the employee welfare and protection during the pandemic. “Even the factories which do not have these committees are adhering to all our guidelines in a satisfactory manner,” he said.Chandrakeerthi said that union leaders do not bring any of these facts to the decision-making meetings, which proves these  allegations are based on lies. “We have a task force to take appropriate action and we inform our decisions to the garment factory owners. They have been very cooperative with us throughout”, he said.   However, Anton Marcus criticises the government for failing to give vaccines to the apparel sector employees during the first round of vaccination. “We continuously requested the government to vaccinate apparel workers before they visit homes for the Sinhala Tamil New Year. We wrote to the President as well. But nothing happened,” he said. In the past few days, several Covid patients were reported from garment factories.

Also, as Marcus pointed out, most of the apparel companies have received their usual production quotas from Europe and other markets. “Now they are functioning as it was in 2019 with a smaller number of workers.

But they have neglected the security of the workers who bring foreign currency to the country,” he said.