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DateLine Sunday, 25 May 2008

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JAAF promotes rights of apparel workers

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) launched the second image building campaign for apparel sector workers last week in Hingurakgoda and Polonnaruwa. The campaign titled Abimanee is an initiative to build recognition and promote the rights of apparel sector workers.


Lanka’s apparel industry - highly labour intensive.

Chairman, Sub-committee, Local Image Building Campaign, Deepal Nelson said the recognition and image of the garment sector workers have to be developed as they contribute a major share to the economy.

The apparel sector which generates 45 per cent of the country’s export earnings is empowered by women who comprise 90 per cent of the employees.The industry has a direct workforce of over 300,000 people while indirectly it employs around one million who are predominantly from the rural areas.

“Garments is the only industry that has a majority of its employees from the rural sector who have been employed irrespective of their educational qualifications. Employees are provided training facilities to develop their skills”, he said.

The apparel industry in Sri Lanka is recognised for ethical working conditions, free from child labour, forced labour, discrimination and absence of sweatshops which are the key principles of the Garments Without Guilt initiative.

Nelson said the apparel industry is highly labour intensive and the foremost work ethic in the business is to ensure that employees are treated properly.

JAAF in collaboration with the Ministry of Textile Industry has launched programs in several districts to empower women and educate people in villages on the importance of the industry and employment opportunities for rural youth.

The pilot image building program was launched in Kekirawa last month with the participation of over 500 people from villages who were exposed to the importance of the industry.

Nelson said whether Sri Lanka will be given an extension of the GSP Plus concessions has been stressed too much.The GSP Plus should not be an issue when the apparel industry is known for observing ethical standards and complying with international regulations.

“The stakeholders of the industry have taken steps to build better lives for workers and their families and have created opportunities for education and personal growth. By creating an equitable society the industry is helping the business to compete with integrity and respect,” he said.

The apparel industry which is the largest single employer in the country is expected to grow from US$ 3 billion to around US$ 5 billion by 2010.

The United Nations estimates that women account for two-thirds of the world’s work yet earn only 5 per cent of the income and own less than 1 per cent of the property.

 

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