Sri Lanka: Statement: Solidarity Action – SkySport Lanka Limited


Urgent Appeal Case: UA980112

Dear Friends,

RE: Solidarity Action – SkySport Lanka (Ltd.), 12 Feb at German & Sri Lanka Consulates

The Managing Director of SkySport Lanka (Ltd.), a German national, assaulted a production worker Miss M.G. Karunawathi with a packed parachute on 17th October 1997. She was issued a termination letter in English on 28th October 1997.

The 12 February 1998 solidarity action coordinated by CAW in Hong Kong was participated by 50 concern persons. A protest Statement was presented to both the German and Sri Lankan governments signed by 27 organizations plus one individual. Below is the statement prepared by Committee for Asian Women (CAW) and endorsed by Hong Kong based NGOs and Labour groups.

You are encouraged to present similar statement to the German and Sri Lankan Consulates or respresentatives in your country.


His Excellency
The Consul General The German Consulate
Hong Kong

c.c. The President of Sri Lanka
c.c. The Consul General Sri Lanka Consulate Hong Kong

His Excellency,

We, the undersigned, understand the fact Miss M. G. Karunawathi was a Juki Machine Operator with Sky Sport Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., a German owned Company operating in Katunayake since 1995. Sky Sport Lanka manufactures, processes and exports paragliders, parachutes, canopies and harnesses.

On 17th October 1997 at 3: 30 p.m. while Miss M.G. Karunawathi was working, the Section Supervisor informed her that the Managing Director wanted her in the packing section. When she went there with the Supervisor, the Managing Director showed to the Supervisor a finished parachute with a production mistake. The Managing Director, a German national then assaulted Miss M.G. Karunawathi with a packed parachute and told her to go.

Miss M.G. Karunawathi left immediately and went to the police and made a complaint (entry number CIB1 323/135 97/10/17). The police advised her to go to hospital. She then went to the Negombo hospital, but as the Chief Doctor was not there they asked her to come back on the following day. On 18th October she went to Minuwangoda Government Hospital for treatment. The following day was Sunday so she did not report for work.

Miss M.G. Karunawathi reported for work as usual on 20th October where she was handed a final warning letter alleging that she did not respect the managing Director when he had allegedly discovered a mistake in her production and that she left the premises without warning management and did not report for wok on 18th October. Miss M.G. Karunawathi denied these allegations in a letter dated 27th October. After finishing work on 28th October at about 5:10 p.m. she was issued a termination letter in English which she did not understand. She was then dismissed without a domestic enquiry by management. This is a denial of natural justice.

Further, two women whom Miss M.G. Karunawathi stated in her report to the police were witnesses to the assault have been harassed by Management. Annual leave for one of these women has been cancelled. This was confirmed by the Personnel Manager prior to her handing Miss M.G. Karunawathi her termination letter. Harrassment and intimidation of witnesses is a criminal offence. It is likely that if these women witnesses testify, they will lose their positions in the factory. One it seems is now too scared to testify.

According to Miss M.G. Karunawath, she along with some other workers were being victimized by Management for not working on the August Poya Day. Because they did not work on this holiday their attendance bonus for the entire month were not paid, in addition Rs 2 per hour was deducted from each of their wages for further two months. This is contrary to Sri Lankan labour laws.

The salary structure in this factory is based on an hourly rate, rather than a monthly salary which is again a clear breach of labour law under the Wages Board Ordinance and in conflict with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Handbook.

Management has also prevented a Worker’s Council from being formed in the Factory. Again this is contrary to Government Policy and against the agreement reached by your Government with investor Companies. It also breaches ILO Conventions on the right to organize and the right to freedom of association as well it is contrary to democratic processes and human rights.

This case illustrates that the assault of workers by Management and Supervisors has become common place in the Free Trade Zone. Investors should not be allowed to continue to breach the Labour Laws of this country and violate workers’ human rights.

Other violations of workers’ rights in this case have been:

* salary was also forcefully deducted without workers’ consent for the formation of a death Benevolent Society, started by the management. When 7 employees questioned the management about it, they were framed on false charges and subsequently locked out of the factory. One of them was even physically assaulted by the Managing Director.

Employees who witnessed the assault then lodged their protest on 5th Jan. 1998 to the management. The next day, they were all locked out of the factory. Up to this date, out of 124 employees locked out, 50 remained unable to return to work. One of them has already been unfairly terminated without a domestic enquiry by the management. Subsequently, the Production Manager has also been terminated by the Managing Director because he is suspected of being supportive of the workers.

Today, while the concerned workers are protesting outside the said factory for their justice and dignity, we gather here to request your intervention and assistance to ensure that:

* Miss M.G. Karunawathi be reinstated and be given the due compensation;

* the police and relevant authorities are instructed to take criminal action against the assault by the Managing Director on Miss M.G. Karunawathi;

* the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka is advised to ensure that Worker’s Councils are established in every factory in accordance with the government agreement;

* procedures are established to ensure that workers are not assaulted by management in their workplaces;

* action is taken against Sky Sport Lanka for illegally fining workers;

* Action is taken against Sky Sport Lanka for denying workers natural justice and their human rights;

* German Companies and all foreign companies in Sri Lanka should follow local labour laws and uphold human rights of workers

* Sri Lanka government to resolve the dispute immediately

* Sky Sport Lanka to take back all locked-out employees and the two employees who were assaulted with full pay

* Sky Sport Lanka to implement fixed working hours, provide medical care and remove toilet time restriction at workplace

* Sky Sport Lanka to establish reasonable disciplinary procedure at the workplace

Your intervention and assistance in this matter to restore justice to Miss M.G. Karunawathi who is now experiencing extreme financial difficulties due to being unemployed and the other workers of the Free Trade Zones would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Asian Human Rights Commission
Asian Migrant Centre
Asian Monitor Resource Center
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrant Filipinos
Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives
Asian Students’ Association
Association for the Advancement of Feminism
Association of Sri Lankans in Hong Kong
China Labour Bulletin
Christian Industrial Committee
Committee for Asian Women
Clothing Industrial, Clerical and Retail Trade Employees General Union
Documentation Action Groups in Asia
Friends of Bethune House
Friends of Thai
Hong Kong Women Workers Association
Hong Kong Women Christian Council
International Young Christian Workers – Asia Pacific
Industrial Relations Institute
Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers
Neighbourhood Workers Service Centre
Student Christian Movement – Hong Kong
Society for Community Organization
United Filipinos in Hong Kong
World Student’s Christian Federation
The Pioneer
Individual: Ms. Mabel Au

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : UA980112
Countries : Sri Lanka,