02 June 2011 / By Nabeela Hussain
Hundreds of Katunayake Free Trade Zone employees are stuck within the Zone unable to leave the area due to conflicting orders given by the government and the army, several trade unions said yesterday.
The Free Trade Zone Workers Union (FTZWU) said according to a Board of Investment (BoI) directive, the Katunayake FTZ would be re-opened today, but the Army in a public announcement said the Zone would be closed till further notice. The Union said employees had been asked to leave the Zone but were unable to do so as their salaries had not been paid.
The hapless employees have made several complaints about their concerns but little or nothing seems to be happening in resolving these matters.
“The employers are saying they are helpless as decisions are being made by other authorities while the employees are complaining,” FTZWU Joint Secretary Anton Marcus said adding that the government should stop suppressing the democratic and fundamental rights of the employees.
Mr. Marcus said workers’ job security, the personal security and the security of the Katunayake residents had to be ensured by the government.
“The government should also provide necessary medical facilities to those who are injured,” he said.
“We won’t accept the claim that the private sector pension scheme has been suspended by the party as it has to be withdrawn from parliament,” he said.
Mr. Marcus also stressed they would not stop trade union action until the bill was withdrawn and that the matter would be taken up with international organizations.
Meanwhile the Inter Company Employees Union (ICEU), urged the government to re-open the area to ensure that the situation did not worsen any further. The Union said severe measures had been adopted by the government to suppress the rights of the employees.