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23 Oct 2020


Sri Lanka: Union denounces harsh COVID-19 containment measures for garment workers

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According to reports, on 19 October the total number of Covid-19 cases in Minuwangoda Brandix increased to 2,122, including more than a thousand workers of Brandix apparel limited, their close contacts and family members. This cluster accounts for nearly half of the total number of Covid cases in Sri Lanka and has received national attention.

Unions say that the army... without prior information entered garment workers’ boarding rooms at night, asking them to immediately move to quarantine centres.

Anton Marcus, of Free Trade Zone & General Services Employees union, says:

“Had the factories formed health committees... the health problems would have been identified earlier and this crisis could have been avoided. It is imperative that health committees are immediately formed in every garment factory.
"The forceful quarantine measures must stop and workers need to be treated with dignity..."

Workers were given no time to prepare or to gather their belongings. They were taken together, without following any safety processes like social distancing, to the distant quarantine centres...

The fact that the quarantine centre lacked safety measures, basic sanitary facilities, health staff and access to good food meant an increased possibility of infection among the quarantined workers...

Various reports suggest that company officials insisted on maintaining production to achieve set targets and failed to stop the developing health crisis among the workers...