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Article

4 Aug 2021

Author:
Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum

Response to Clean Clothes Campaign report, 'Still Un(der) Paid' from Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum (via Adfactor PR firm)

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Response from the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum via Adfactor PR firm to report titled 'Still Un(der) Paid by the Clean Clothes Campaign, 4 August 2021

...we have to express our profound disappointment with the conclusions and statements in the report related to the apparel industry in Sri Lanka.

Our first disappointment is that the CCC writers did not even speak to members in the apparel industry or the individual associations represented by the Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF)...Instead, the CCC relied entirely on certain representatives of trade unions and anecdotal incidents...

...The report acknowledges that CCC has made assumptions in its calculations...but it does not absolve the CCC of the responsibility to add a caution, that the conclusions based on the assumptions it made may not reflect reality...

The number of workers in the apparel industry. Your report states there are 500,000 workers. Yet several independent reports put the number at 350,000 to 400,000. Your assumption is 20 – 30 per cent higher...

Job Losses. Your report cites 100,000 as estimated job losses...A report published by the Ministry of Labour...in May 2020 estimated total job losses at 300,000 out of 3.5 million private-sector workers...

Your report has taken a number cited as what was expressedas a fear in August 2020 out of context and presented it as today’s fact without substantiating or validating it....

Unpaid wages. The report...arrives at a very large number of unpaid severance dues based on the case of 497 workers who were in fact paid an average of 15 months of compensation, as per law. The fact that the only real data used for the report shows that compensation was paid to employees who were terminated, gives further doubt to your assumption that no compensation was paid to the estimated 100,000 who lost their jobs.

In May 2020, a unique tripartite agreement was reached between the industry and the Ministry of Labour to ensure that employers do not terminate workers' employment during the pandemic and pay 50 per of workers' basic wages, or LKR 14,500, if workers are furloughed. This agreement has ensured that the industry was able to prevent mass loss of jobs amidst a time of extreme national and global crisis. Yet your report insists on overstating the job losses.

In light of the above, the basis of all your estimates on the size of the workforce in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, job losses and claims of unpaid wages, is unclear. As the preceding paragraphs have shown, the conclusions in your report are unverified and speculative, harming the reputation of an industry that has worked hard on building it...

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