CAW secretariat received an appeal letter from Women"s Center, for help to a Sri Lankan women worker who was assaulted by the managing director of the company she was employed with. Her ordeal highlights the gross violation of the existing labour laws of the country as well as violation of her basic human rights as a worker. We hope this appeal will help in gathering support and solidarity to the women worker and thereby ensure that justice prevails.
This appeal relates to the treatment by Sky Sport Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, a German owned company operating in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, manufacturing, processing and exporting paragliders, parachutes, canopies and harnesses. Miss M G Karunawathi was a Juki (sewing) machine operator with Sky Sport Lanka, and was assaulted by the managing director, a German national, with a packed parachute.
Later, she was dismissed for alleged mistakes in production and being absent from work. There is no way of proving whether she did or did not make the alleged mistake. She was absent from work the following day seeking treatment at the hospital for injuries arising from the assault. A letter stating this was provided to the Personal Manager.
Further, two women who Miss Karunawathi stated in her report to the police were witness to that assult have been harassed by the management. Annual leave for one of the women has been cancelled. If the women testify it is likely that they too will loose their jobs.
Previously, Miss Karunawathi along with some other workers were being victimised by the management for not working on August Poya Day ( Poya is a public holiday and workers are not required to work on this day). As they did not work on this. Day their attendance bonuses for the entire month was not paid and in addition Rs 2 per hour was deducted from their wages for a further two months , which is contrary to the Sri Lankan labour laws.
Miss Karunawathi is paid a monthly wage of US$ 66.00, which includes overtime and attendance bonus. With the above mentioned penalty being imposed her August salary was only USD$ 51.00 only.
Management has also prevented a Workers Council from being formed in the factory, which is contrary to government policy and also against the agreement reached by the government with the investor companies.
The assult of workers by Management and Supervisors within the Free Trade Zone is becoming a disturbing trend. Investors should not be allowed to continue to breach the labour laws of the country and violate workers human rights.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
**Send a protest letter to the Managing Director of Sky Sport Lanka (Pvt) Ltd
Mr. Ulirich Kurrle
Sky Sport Lanka (Pvt) Ltd Ring road, Phase 11
Investment Promotion Zone Katunayake, Sri Lanka.
Telephone 941 252435,
Fax 941 25439
Mr Kurrles' German address is: Panorama WEG 14, D-87629, Germany .
Demands that should be made include:
The reinstatement of Miss Karunawathi,
That the illegal practices of firing workers and paying them by the hour should cease immediately;
That Sky Sport Lanka uphold principles of natural justice and human rights with respect to workers.
Remember to send a copy of your letter to Women"s Center.
**Put pressure on German Companies operating overseas to uphold the laws of the country in which they operate.
**German unions should take this matter up with their government, as the factory states that it is approved by the German government.
**Draw this matter to the attention of as many people as possible, by notifying other German organisations, promoting this issue in journals and magazines.
** Write a letter to the president of Sri Lanka:
Asian Women Workers Newsletter Vol. 17 No. 1 January 1998 15