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EFC HR / IR Forum powered by Unilever Sri Lanka PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 March 2017 16:42

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) re-launched its HR/IR Forum recently with a new perspective for the year 2017. This new series will be sponsored by Unilever Sri Lanka who are keen that employers share best practices and share thoughts on common issues confronting them. The event which unfolded at the EFC auditorium, provided a platform for the practitioners to discuss current industry issues and share best practices among them. 

The forum which deliberated on the topic, ‘Incorporating productivity linked elements as part of terms and conditions of employment through workplace cooperation mechanism’ also brought under spotlight a case study related to the same, presented by Sumeet Verma, Director HR, Unilever Sri Lanka. It was followed by a panel discussion featuring Damitha Dharmasena, Director HR and Sustainable Business, MAS Kreeda and Indika Gamage, Senior Manager, Group HR & Administration of Polytex Garments Ltd. The session was moderated by Roshan Kulasuriya, Director HR, Coats Thread Exports.
In his opening remarks Director General, EFC, Kanishka Weerasinghe noted that the topic of the re-launched HR/IR Forum is an integral part of EFC’s agenda on Sustainable Enterprises. “True that enterprises are profit-driven, but we cannot afford to forget the Triple Bottom line at the same time,” remarked the EFC Chief who also noted that productivity and competitiveness are very much dependent on people factors such as work-place cooperation.
Reflecting on the relevance of the core ILO Conventions as well as those which articulate the rights of workers to be represented, the DG stated that “EFC is steeped in values that
 recognize tripartite relationships and employee engagement as well as workplace cooperation is fundamental to our agenda of promoting social dialogue”. 
Commenting on the EFC-Unilever collaboration, Sumeet Verma, Director HR, Unilever Sri Lanka remarked: “we are looking at this partnership as means of sharing knowledge related to every-day running of business and tackling problems.” The case study presented by Verma traversed the journey of Ceytea, a Unilever managed tea company which is now a
 leading player in the global iced tea industry. The factory which was on the brink of closure owing to continuous employee unrest, turned tables by championing transparency in processes and communication, capacity building and employee welfare to emerge  a two-billion litre supplier to the global iced tea market today. 
Sharing the success story of MAS Kreeda where ‘humility’ embraced by its mother company has enabled to do the ‘right thing by their people, community, customers and other stakeholders’, Damitha Dharmasena,
Director HR and Sustainable Business, MAS Kreeda, shed light upon the practices within his organizations which had garnered productivity. “In our 30-year journey MAS had not encountered any major industrial dispute which is a great achievement,” observed Dharmasena who reiterated that in a non-unionized working culture such as theirs, an enabling working environment where the management is available for the workforce, replete with the “right input, right machinery and right method” had helped achieve productivity. He also cited automation which has re-skilled the workforce and mitigation of waste among other contributory factors in this regard. “Performance agility and innovative mindset drive productivity in any organization,” he further noted.
In a highly unionized environment where unleashing the potential of the employees was a herculean task, setting mutual expectations had not only accelerated productivity within the organization but it had also changed employee perceptions, observed Indika Gamage, Senior Manager, Group HR & Administration of Polytex Garments Ltd. A lead player in the manufacturing of cotton T-shirts with a local workforce of about 6000, Polytex has been transformed into a company realizing employee satisfaction with reskilling in place, lean management practices and fostering ‘Built in Quality’ and thereby emerging a competitive player in the industry. 
Concluding the discussion, Roshan Kulasuriya commented that his experience of working in companies that were unionized and those without for over 20 years has taught him the importance of having a dialogue mechanism in place at all levels. He further noted that in terms of productivity at work place what is crucial is to work towards “getting productivity right.”  This is enabled only through  the effective handling of the human resource and business model changes, he noted. “How strong the value system of an organization is, also counts in determining productivity,” observed Kulasuriya. 

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Last Updated on Monday, 13 March 2017 16:50