Sri Lanka’s JAAF to promote garment worker safety with ILO Better Work Initiative

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2023-02-26 17:46:40 – Sri Lanka

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) of Sri Lanka demonstrates the industry's commitment to putting garment factory workers first by supporting the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Better Work project.

In order to promote occupational safety and health measures for garment workers, JAAF introduced an ongoing program for industry consultants in support of the ILO and IFC's Better Work Initiative.

The national OSH master trainer program was introduced last year, and JAAF said that the 70 industry advisors from the Ministry of Labor, Employers Federation of Ceylon, Representatives of Trade Unions, and factories nominated by JAAF received training on facilitation skills and techniques, communication skills, and technical aspects of OSH, such as risk assessments and management systems.

The next stage is to provide 70 trainers with the skills they need to become "Industry Advisers" and create bipartite committees inside the clothing industry by having the ILO launch the Better Work Sri Lanka initiative. The participants will then put into practice a joint directive of the ILO and other stakeholders to enhance current workplace practices.

The sessions were a journey for the participants to learn social conversation in practice, according to Kesava Murali Kanapathy, director of the Better Work Sri Lanka Programme. They also talked about common problems they had, places for development, and solutions.

Better Work Sri Lanka is leading the initiative to encourage enterprise-level bipartite OSH committees, which is being carried out in collaboration with JAAF, the Employees Federation of Ceylon (EFC), the Ministry of Labour, and representatives from trade unions.

Yohan Lawrence, the secretary general of JAAF, said that Sri Lanka's garment industry is a destination for ethical manufacturing and stated that even though the textile industry prioritizes worker safety, it is essential to continually acquaint and broaden the employee's understanding of OSH. They signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) with trade unions in December 2021, to ensure that they create safer workplaces through a coordinated approach, especially during the epidemic.

Lawrence added that they observed that all parties held dialogues with trust and openness, keeping workers' health at the forefront, as a result of our participation in the Better Work initiative, which made it possible for this cooperation to come to fruition.

Kanapathy added that instead of just making occupational safety and health a compliance obligation, the goal is to create a culture of it in the workplace. The objective is to put management and employee representatives on an equal footing to proactively address OSH requirements.

According to JAAF, the inclusion of more women on these bipartite OSH committees will boost their participation in OSH-related issues.

JAAF continues that the ILO designated OSH as a Basic Principle and Right at Work in 2022, and in addition, we need to establish a national discourse to reform our labor laws to prioritize OSH. As JAAF and other stakeholders have been helpful, they need to further solidify their relationship with them.

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