Sri Lanka looks at cutting working week, easing layoffs

April 17, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s labour ministry says a request by the private sector to cut the working week to five days to deal with an economic slump, is timely and attempts would be made to reach a deal fast. Sri Lanka’s private sector has asked to end a half-day of work Saturday and spread the time over the rest of the week with many export firms losing orders. But unions were demanding overtime.

An advisory committee on labour which includes unions had met on the issue but had so far not reached a final agreement.

A ministry statement quoted labour minister Athauda Seneviratne as saying that another meeting would be convened for to further discuss the issue and reach a speedy settlement.

“By working only five days the cost of operating firms will be reduced and it is expected that jobs of workers will be made more secure,” the minister was quoted as saying.

Sri Lanka’s Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) a body representing private enterprises says spreading the Saturday work over the week should not require overtime as workers also get an extra day off.

“Right now as the result of global downturn some of the factories and some of the companies are facing loss of orders,” direct