4.3 Industrial Relations

Our industrial relations policy will provide for workplace arrangements and associated employment relations matters. This policy will apply to all employment relationships at a work place under various employment situations both unionised and non-unionised.

When labour markets are seen as imperfect, and when the employment relationship includes conflicts of interest, markets or managers cannot be relied upon to always serve workers’ interests. An industrial relations framework supports institutional interventions to improve the workings of the employment relationship and to protect workers’ rights.

Industrial relations policy should aim at balancing the employment relationship to generate economic efficiency as well as employee equity and participation. Such a system will not pursue an employment relationship that provides too much weight to employers’ interests.

When the interests of employers and employees are divergent, the employers wish to maximize profit at the expense of the employee and employees wish to enjoy social benefits in the form of increased wages and more conducive working environments. This makes conflict inevitable. Trade unions intervene to protect the interests of their members as trade unions are legitimate representatives of employees. Collective bargaining when properly managed should lead to workplace harmony and positive change.

We will study the existing industrial relations system in Sri Lanka to check whether it needs to be replaced by a new fairer system.

If elected, we will set up an Investigatory Parliamentary Committee to look into the existing system of industrial relations. At the outset, a referral will be provided to investigate into the independence and the appropriateness of powers of the industrial relations tribunal. We believe that all workers should have a protection mechanism and above minimum wages and conditions determined by an Independent Industrial Relations Commission with non-judicial power of arbitration in settling industrial disputes.

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