Better Work partners with Sri Lankan industry stakeholders

The ILO and IFC’s Better Work programme is launching an ambitious intervention in Sri Lanka, with the support of the European Union.

Press release | 06 February 2022
COLOMBO (ILO News) - The ILO and IFC’s Better Work programme is launching an ambitious intervention in Sri Lanka, with the support of the European Union. The shared goal is to strengthen the apparel industry recovering from the pandemic and work toward a future of increased resilience, efficiency, and sustainability. The Better Work team will closely collaborate on the initiative with national partners – government, employers, workers, and their organizations.

The garment industry is the largest exporter in Sri Lanka’s economy and employs a majority of women workers. COVID-19 slowed the growth, but the industry started to recover in 2021 to $5.1b and aims to expand to $8b by 2025.

Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives
“This flagship programme could not have arrived at a more appropriate time as the country and the industry start to recover and rebuild from the pandemic. With Better Work’s extensive experience, tools, and partnerships, I am convinced the programme will succeed in exemplifying what a human centered recovery means, with greater industry competitiveness and decent work for all” said Simrin Singh, ILO Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Better Work’s presence in Sri Lanka began with its Academy initiative. This work involved engaging one of the country’s largest denim manufacturing groups (Orit Apparels Lanka) and its partner company, global brand Levi Strauss, on improving workplace cooperation and worker-manager dialogue. The aim of the two-year partnership was to build better communication between workers and managers at the factory level to drive long-term change.

Building upon the experiences with the Academy and on its global expertise, the Better Work programme will support national constituents in Sri Lanka to promote international labour standards and promote more effective partnerships and sound industrial relations. Better Work Sri Lanka will focus its interventions on:
  • Occupational Safety and Health, in the context of COVID-19 Management and Recovery, including using risk assessments, strengthening management systems, conducting leadership training and training of trainers, and awareness campaigns promoting improved mental health and well-being.
  • Gender, Diversity and Inclusion, including leadership skills training and career development for women workers, implementation of the ILO C190 toolkit addressing harassment and violence in the workplace, and facilitating access to pregnancy-related healthcare, childcare and maternity protection.
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including leadership and financial literacy training for SME management, implementation of a factory improvement toolkit including management systems and productivity interventions, and increasing visibility to supply chain partners.
  • A series of launch events will take place in February 2022, which includes primetime television and radio talk shows and webinars.
About Better Work
Better Work is a partnership between the UN’s International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. On-the-ground in 12 countries across three continents, Better Work brings diverse groups together – governments, global brands, factory owners, and unions and workers – to improve working conditions in the garment industry and make the sector more competitive. Learn more: https://betterwork.org/

For more information, please contact:

Kesava Murali Kanapathy, ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives: murali@ilo.org
Tel: + 94112592525