Workers and Employers Organizations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Workers at their stations on the garment production line. ©ILO/M.Crozet
The Sri Lankan Constitution grants as a fundamental right for every person to join a trade union, while the Trade Union Ordinance permits any seven people to form such an organization.

In Sri Lanka, there are 2,074 registered trade unions, of which 54.5 per cent are in the public sector, 27.5 per cent in public corporations and 18 per cent in the private sector. The number of members covered by the trade unions amount to 9.5 per cent of the total workforce of Sri Lanka.

While several unions are affiliated to the Global Union Federations (GUFs), there are four unions that are affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The ITUC members being: Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and the National Workers Congress (NWC).

The ILO office works and consults with the most representative unions or collectives within a sector or trade in the implementation of activities under the DWCP.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) was established in 1929 as an organization of employers dealing with labour and social issues in Sri Lanka. It is today the principal organization of employers, promoting employer interests at national level, especially focusing on industrial relations and labour law. The unique feature of this organization is that it provides a wide range of direct services to its member employers. The membership consists of individual employers representing different business interests. Since the 1980s, the EFC brought in a new culture and expanded its services in terms of training and development through which it promotes better workplace relations between employers and workers. Today, it is a formidable organization which commands the attention of the policy makers in relation to labour policy. The EFC plays a very important role in terms of lobbying for labour reforms and changes in policy in the interest of employers in Sri Lanka. It is recognized by all Trade and Business Chambers in Sri Lanka as the ‘voice of business’ in relation to labour law and industrial relations in Sri Lanka.