Shrinking Wallets

Sept 08, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka™s clothing trade, which employs about a million workers, is opposing trade union efforts to jack up minimum monthly wages to 10,000 rupees, due to spiraling costs and tight margins.

Trade unions have asked the government to raise wages for all industries to a minimum of 10,000 rupees a month, to cope with a soaring cost of living. Basic wages however, vary between sectors.

Sri Lankan apparel workers earn a basic wage of 5,000 rupees plus attendance allowances, with most companies paying an average of about 6,000-7,000 rupees a month.

This is in addition to benefits like transport and food, Ajith Dias, Chairman of a subcommittee on labour issues at the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), said.

While it is appreciated that the high cost of living and other increases in goods and services have prompted this demand it must be emphasized that such requests must be tempered by the realities facing the textile and apparel industry, JAAF said in a statement on Friday.

Sri Lanka™s 2.7 billion dollar garment trade, has made a name for itself as a key supplier to top clothing labels like Victoria™s Secret, Mast Industries and Liz Claiborne.