ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s apparel exporters are ready to bear the cost of vaccinating 350,000 workers if the government could help source vaccines, with the sector now having difficulties meeting delivery deadlines, a statement said.
“There is a global demand for apparel but Sri Lanka is falling short in meeting deadlines and important clients are moving towards competitors who are supplying without any delay,” Chairman of Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka (JAAFSL) was quoted as saying at an online seminar with Colombo based Institute of Policy Studies.
“The apparel sector represents 47 percent of Sri Lanka’s total exports. It is imperative to vaccinate the 350,000-export sector workers to be able to meet customer requirements.”
“If workers are not vaccinated before May this year, there will be serious repercussions for the entire sector and the country’s economy.
“Sri Lanka has a reputation as a reliable supplier and that is now under threat.”
Malith Jayasinghe director of Lesova Holdings Ltd had said small and medium enterprises in the apparel sector were facing cash shortages, worker absenteeism, mobility issues, scarcity of raw material, increased cost of production as well as loss in demand.
“The second (Coronavirus) wave worsened an already difficult situation,” Jayasinghe had said.
Sri Lanka saw a spike in Coronavirus after September 2020, when a second wave of infections spread from the Gampaha district which is believed to have emerged from airline crew or seafarers in transit.
Factories are operating under Covid-19 health guidelines, which among other require distancing which reduces the capacity of factories.
Factories had to obey quarantine regulations.
“The pandemic was a unique external challenge thus the Health Ministry had to come into play. Most of the laws and health guidelines are issued under the quarantine law; that is under the Health Ministry and the DG – Health Services is the respective authority for that,” Labour Commissioner Madhavie Gunawardena had said.
“Even though we say that it is the labour laws that prevail in the factories, for pandemic-related issues, it is the health guidelines we have to obey. The Department of Labour cannot intervene when quarantine laws are violated.” (Colombo/Feb09/2021)