Sri Lanka celebrates ILO’s 90 years working for social justice

The ILO Country Office in Sri Lanka celebrated the 90th anniversary of the creation of the ILO with a number of high-level activities. In August 2008, a tripartite steering committee comprising of the Government, ILO, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the workers’ organizations was established under the chairpersonship of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower, for planning the events in lieu of the ILO’s 90th anniversary.

News | 15 August 2009

High-Level National Commemoration Event on 28 April at the Presidential Secretariat, Colombo, Sri Lanka under the auspices of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

This was the main event for the celebrations and included the delivery of speeches, presentation of awards and tokens and the announcement of the ratification of several ILO conventions. The event was organized by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower with technical inputs from the ILO.

The keynote address was given by HE Mahinda Rajapaksa. Other invitees included the ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Dr. Sachiko Yamamoto, Ministers including the Hon. Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne, the Governor of the Western Province Hon. Alavi Moulana, relevant government and non-government officials and the social partners.

In commemoration of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s 90th anniversary celebrations in 2009, the Government represented by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower initiated and awarded the National Decent Work Awards, aimed at rewarding outstanding contributions to the advancement of the national goal of decent work for all. From 2009, the biennial awards are presented for the representative employers and workers organizations and enterprises. Award recipients were selected by a six member panel of judges consisting of three representatives from the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower and one representative each from the employers, workers and the ILO (as observer). For 2009, In the Employers Category, the Gold Award was presented to Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd. And the Silver Award was presented to Associated Battery Manufacturers (Ceylon) Ltd. In the Employer/ Employee Organizations Category, the Gold Award was presented to the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya.

In appreciation for their life-long commitment to the world of work, tokens were presented to the President, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa, Hon. Athauda Seneviratne, Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower, and Mr. Mahinda Madihahewa, Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower.

On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower made the official announcement on the ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention (C186), Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (C185) and the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (C155).

Simultaneously with the main event, district level events to mark the 90th anniversary celebrations were organized by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower in 90 locations all over the country. They included speeches and receptions.

Launch of the National Framework on Social Dialogue

The National Framework on Social Dialogue was signed by 10 major Trade Unions, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon as well as the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower on 24 April 2009. The Framework, which outlining roles and responsibilities for each social partner including the Government, is a tool to promote social dialogue in the workplace in principle and in practice. The workshop included presentations by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower, Employers’ Organizations, Workers’ Organizations, ILO Workers Activities Bureau (ACTRAV), ILO Employers Activities Bureau (ACTEMP) and a specialist on Social Dialogue and Labour Administration, ILO-SRO, New Delhi.

ILO 90th Anniversary Media Workshop

One month in advance of the main event, a media/ public relations workshop was held to engage with the media on dimensions of social dialogue, decent work in Sri Lanka and globally. This workshop was also used as an opportunity to publicize planned activities for the celebrations. Resource persons from ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok and the Sub-Regional Office in New Delhi participated in the workshop. The programme consisted of an opening with a historical outline of ILO over 90 years, major benchmarks in ILO’s history, a presentation by the Employers Federation of Ceylon, the Government and the Trade Unions as well as an interactive panel discussion with Q&A on current relevant core ILO issues in Sri Lanka, between the media and the panel. One of the objectives was to link social partners with the media.