The Employers' Federation of Ceylon

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Monday, 10 November 2014 09:53

A SRI LANKAN EMPLOYER BRAND (PROMOTED IN COLLABORATION

WITH THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION [ILO]

SHOWCASING EXEMPLARY SRI LANKAN EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

 

INTRODUCTION

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) is the only Employer Organization in Sri Lanka dealing with employment and industrial relations issues on behalf of Employers. The EFC was established 85 years ago, in 1929, and ever since then it has functioned as an Employer Organization promoting the interests of Employers within the framework of the law in Sri Lanka. The EFC is the Employer Constituent of the ILO and a member of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) Geneva and the Confederation of Asia Pacific Employers (CAPE). Its legal status is that of a Trade Union of Employers registered under the Trade Unions Ordinance. 

The EFC has throughout, its entire existence, respected labour standards, and advised its member Employers to work within the framework of the law. Equal opportunities in employment, freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain are fundamental principles which the EFC has always respected and promoted. In fact, the first collective agreement in Sri Lanka was entered into between the EFC and the All Ceylon Trade Union Congress in 1929. To date, the EFC is the leading organization which engages in collective bargaining on behalf of Employers with trade unions.

 

THE NEED FOR PROACTIVE ACTION

After the opening of the economy, the EFC widened its scope of activities and services. It became a proactive organization interested in catering to the needs of its members and being relevant to them at all times. Today, the EFC has a direct membership of almost 600 members on payment of subscriptions, cutting across a wide spectrum of Employers in this country.

 In the current global market environment, in which Sri Lanka strives to enhance its share of exports, the challenges have not been easy to overcome. Notwithstanding good economic growth in the last decade and the country joining the “middle income club”, its share of exports in relation to GDP has shrunk from a healthy 33% in 2000 to 16.5% in 2012. In this context, more needs to be done to attract investment – importantly, sustainable employment generating income. Growth and sustainability not only requires economic efficiency in enterprises but compliance with social and environmental standards to meet the expectations of the world community. While achieving economic efficiency continues to pose challenges, Sri Lanka has had its own share of problems based on labour standards and alleged human rights issues as well. 

It was not so long ago that Sri Lanka had to respond to a petition filed by the AFLCIO alleging breach of labour standards. The EFC also made its own submissions, along with the government, denying these allegations and showcasing our country as being one which always respected and observed labour standards in Asia. 

Quite apart from this, we are aware that Sri Lankan businesses competing in the international markets are subject to much pressure, not only to comply with the local laws in relation to labour standards but conform to norms set by international buyers from time to time.

 

THE RATIONALE FOR A NEW SRI LANKAN EMPLOYER BRAND – COMPLIANCE + 

Notwithstanding these challenges, it is our view that Sri Lanka can easily be regarded as a country which maintains a very high standard in relation to employing workers, in comparison with other countries in South Asia. It is important that we showcase this reality. It is also important that we showcase it with a Sri Lankan business identity which will propel Sri Lankan businesses to a higher level and would attract not only foreign buyers but also potential investors. 

We are conscious that various international standards are in place for businesses to embrace. However, the brand that the EFC hopes to introduce is a unique product that would enable Employers/Enterprises to “showcase” themselves as exemplary businesses, vis-à-vis employment practices, in the context of national and international norms.  

The Compliance+ brand will be a source of assurance to any business stakeholder, national or international, that an enterprise holding this standard is not just compliant with the laws of the land, but seeks to surpass mandatory standards, and excel in them with its employment practices.

 

The areas of focus in relation to “Compliance +” will be as follows: 

 

  1. Equal opportunities in employment
  2. Employer-employee relations
  3. Work arrangement practices
  4. Environment 

 

An independent audit Company will conduct the audit by visiting the Companies and obtaining the necessary information from both employers and employees. On completion of the audit the Company will receive a report, under confidential cover. Successful completion of the audit will result in the Company receiving the brand “Compliance +”.

 

WHAT IS SO UNIQUE ABOUT COMPLIANCE+ ?

The audit seeks to assess whether an employer is doing something more than just being compliant with the labour laws and regulations. These requirements will be incorporated in the checklist of the audit. 

The ILO has collaborated with the EFC in promoting this Employer brand. Hence, it must have international recognition. 

The focus areas of this standard will be audited by an independent international audit company of repute giving weightage to the employee perception. In other words, the employees views and observations in relation to the 4 areas mentioned above will weigh heavily towards the company being awarded the certification. 

 

TARGETTED ENTERPRISES

All sectors of industry that compete in the international market with their products and services. 

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Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 10:43
 
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