Sri Lanka: Workers at glove factory strike over alleged union-busting by management
Since 2018, workers at ATG Ceylon Pvt Ltd. – a British-Sri Lankan industrial gloves manufacturer – have been staging protests over alleged labour abuses and union busting at the company’s two factories based in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.
Members of the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees' Union (FTZ&GSEU) allege that the company has refused to discuss worker issues raised by the union and has engaged in a series of union busting tactics, including intimidation, harassment and unlawful dismissals. Workers have staged protests in front of the Sri Lankan Prime Ministers’ Office and the British High Commission to raise their concerns.
In January 2019, protests renewed after the company dismissed five workers and union members involved in an arbitration process with the company that had not yet concluded. The workers were protesting for the reinstatement of the dismissed workers, an end to union oppression and against allegations of violent and sexual harassment against a woman worker who was pressurised to leave both the protests and the union.
The FTZ&GSEU, which is affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union, has received support from international groups including Clean Clothes Campaign and War on Want, and from the German Ambassador in Sri Lanka who has expressed concerns of labour violations at ATG Ceylon.
In January 2019, the British CEO of ATG Ceylon responded to a letter from War on Want regarding the alleged labour abuses. ATG said it denies the allegations made by the trade unions, and that it will intensify conversations with workers and employee representatives.