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19 Oct 2020

Melani Manel Perera, Asia News

Sri Lanka: Activists urge independent investigation into treatment and detention of garment workers at Brandix plant

"Minuwangoda garment workers blamed for the spread of COVID-19", 19 October 2020

Workers employed in the garment industry are being blamed for the spread of COVID-19 and the quarantine imposed on them is a form of punishment, trade unions said at a recent meeting held at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) in Colombo.

They accuse the authorities of discriminating against segments of the population in their efforts to contain the pandemic; instead, they should go and see how garment workers are forced to live this crisis situation.

...According to the World Health Organisation, Sri Lanka has reported 5,475 COVID-19 cases with 13 deaths. At present, the Brandix plant in Minuwangoda, one of the largest local apparel manufacturers, is the main cluster.

More than 1,500 people connected with the plant have tested positive, including staff members, their families and relations. A group of 48 workers who arrived from India on charter flights are thought to have caused the outbreak...

Brandix claims to have followed all health regulations; however, an investigation found that public health inspectors did not supervise these workers’ quarantine process...

...Activists note that a complaint has been filed with the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka, asking that workers’ rights be protected. The garment industry is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest sources of revenue.