Strengthening bi-partite social dialogue mechanisms for enhanced workplace cooperation

The ILO’s tripartite constituents in Sri Lanka have identified the strengthening of social dialogue and workplace cooperation as a critical factor for improved dispute resolution. The Department of Labour has engaged employers and trade unions on labour dispute settlement at enterprise-level in the past. However, this has not been successful due to differing interests of employers and trade unions.

To revitalise social dialogue at enterprise level, the Department of Labour together with employers and workers representatives have proposed that bi-partite social dialogue mechanisms be explored. Inculcating a culture of social dialogue and workplace cooperation at enterprise level is critical in order to resolve disputes in an effective and timely manner so that disputes are not protracted, burdening all parties in a costly, lengthy and adversarial process.

The Social Dialogue and Workplace Cooperation unit of the Department of Labour conducts training programmes for management and workers to encourage social dialogue and workplace cooperation at enterprise level. However, the capacity of this unit needs strengthening, to provide effective and timely advisory services.

The two day workshop facilitated by the ILO is expected to expand the understanding of workplace cooperation amongst representatives of the tripartite constituents; and develop guidelines for the establishment of Workplace Cooperation Committees (WCC) in a transparent manner at the enterprise level.

The workshop will bring together representatives of Department of Labour, enterprise-level worker representatives (non-unionised enterprises) & enterprise-level management representatives.

The WCCs are expected to be a mechanism for improved management worker communication & consultation; more efficient problem solving; an improved work environment; and enhanced productivity.

A team of officials from the Department of Labour will be trained by the ILO on the implementation of the guidelines for setting up WCCs. The team will support a small group of enterprises to pilot the establishment of WCCs, within specific sectors.