Sri Lanka trade unions redundant as privatization ends political victimization: study

June 29, 2007 (LBO) – Less political victimization and better benefits have seen workers of privatized Sri Lankan companies opting out of trade unions, a recent survey showed. Meanwhile, the government has said it will close Sri Lanka’s privatization arm, the Public Enterprise Reform Commission, as the sale of state assets was no longer a policy option. A study done by the Centre for Poverty Analysis found that trade union influence was significantly reduced in some privatized state enterprises because of the willingness of management to listen to worker issues directly.

The study – ‘Between Theory and Rhetoric: The Workers’ Reality’ looked at three local companies – Puttalam Salt privatized in 1993, Ceylon Steel Corporation privatized in 1996 and Bogala Graphite Lanka privatized in 2000.

Privatization tore down much of the political structures in these state enterprises.

Prior to privatization, it was important for employees to be with a union affiliated to the ruling party to look after their rights and lobby on their behalf.

The government is no longer an employer and the individuals don’t really need a union to intercede on their behalf’,â