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Sunday, 24 August 2014

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'Balancing efficiency with workforce equity, a challenge'

The 'Them and Us' perception between workers and employers, that was prevalent when the EFC was formed in 1929 has today, been replaced with a collaborative relationship where workers are engaged by employers when workplace problems are addressed, Director General of the Employers' Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Ravi Peiris told delegates at the 32nd annual convention of the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF).

Peiris who was the only Asian presenter, spoke to an audience of over 500 about the role that the EFC had played during this transition.

"The EFC embarked on a more proactive role of attempting to prevent disputes rather than intervening once a dispute had arisen," he said.

Peiris said that Sri Lanka's transition had not been without its challenges.

He said that the 'adversarial approach' was still sometimes prevalent in Sri Lanka's labour relations framework, and the country still struggled with balancing efficiency with equity for the workforce. This imbalance is partly due to the Sri Lankan notion that security of employment would always be there for workers.

Peiris said that Sri Lanka had learned to build a collaborative corporate culture: How to treat employees fairly in a consistent manner, How enhancing the self-esteem of workers creates empowered employees, The importance of shortening the distance between employees and management and developing effective communication mechanisms.

Although it may seem unlikely, the parallels between Jamaica and Sri Lanka are significant. Both countries are islands and were former colonies of the British Empire. Both have Employer's Federations with a long history, being formed while still under British rule, following a growing number of revolts over wages and working conditions. The EFC, is older than its Jamaican counterpart which was formed in 1958. Both Federations have a membership base that continues to grow and are themselves members of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).

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