Gas stations ordered to reserve fuel for vehicles performing essential services – The Island

Shocking Case of Dereliction of Duty by Bureaucrats:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Estate workers have been unable to secure arrears of EPF, ETF and gratuities amounting to Rs 1,888 million due to lack of proper mechanism to implement recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL),

The non-implementation of the recommendations made by the HRCSL in August 2019 concerning 12,000 workers of the Janatha Estate Development Board (JEDB), the Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation (SLSPC) and Elkaduwa Plantations Limited had been the subject of a investigation by the HRCSL following representations made by some of the persons concerned. Outgoing HRCSL President, retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe called a meeting on Wednesday to explore ways and means to address this long-standing issue.

Authoritative sources said The Island that although the three plantation companies were invited to attend a meeting convened by the HRCSL on March 23, only the JEDB was present with high-level representatives from the relevant ministries.

Sources said monies that had been deducted from workers’ salaries were not returned to the Central Bank and retired workers were deprived of their gratuity.

Sources explained that the initial complaint was received in 2013 and that the recommendations were made in late 2019 and that none of the officials had taken concrete steps to implement specific recommendations.

According to the HRCSL document signed by the then HRCSL commissioners, Ramani Muttetuwegama and H. Gazali Hussein, the JEDB owed the workers Rs 885 min, the SLSPC Rs 664 min and the Elkaduwa Plantations Rs 339 min.

Sources said the Ministry of Plantation Industries, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Enterprises and Kandy Development, Department of Labor and Central Bank were the other defendants.

Sources said ministries had turned a blind eye to the plight of workers regardless of the HRCSL’s recommendations brought to their attention.

HRCSL has received assurances from JEDB that all payments due from former JEDB estate workers will be settled no later than November 2, 2022. However, plantation companies SLSPC and Elkaduwa had not yet indicated how they had l intent to fix the issues, sources said. The HRCSL would soon summon them to a meeting to demand an explanation for their absence from the March 22 meeting.

Sources said issues relating to plantation workers have been dealt with in a sluggish manner by the Ministry of Plantation Industries, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Enterprises and Kandy Development, Department of Labor and the Central Bank. Specific recommendations/instructions intended to provide relief to workers have so far been rejected, sources said, adding that the HRCSL intends to pursue the matter vigorously.

Michelle J. Kelley