A country could be considered as prosperous only when its artistes
and working class are leading a satisfactory life.
It is the duty of the government and the Opposition to ensure that
workers rights are safeguarded. From time to time, benefits should be
revised and proper relief measures be granted. At present the following
matters need immediate attention.
a) EPF and ETF Benefits - EPF benefits should be considered as
compulsory savings and the government should impose strict laws for due
compliance. It is regrettable that EPF and ETF benefits are not enjoyed
(i) EPF is not deducted from all liable income sources.
(ii) EPF deducted is not paid together with the employer’s contribution.
(iii) EPF and ETF dues are not settled on time.
Only 45% of employers comply with the rules and regulations. In the
event of a company being liquidated EPF and ETF dues cannot be recovered
even from the directors in full.
(iv) Several employees, especially those from the estate sector are
not aware of the correct procedures to obtain EPF and ETF refunds.
(v) Unions do not show interest in checking as to whether EPF and ETF
contributions are remitted on time. They do not assist their members to
withdraw refunds on time.
(vi) It is high time the government appoints a team of investigators
to check if EPF and ETF regulations are complied by all. Unemployed
graduates could be employed for this purpose.
b) Retiring Gratuity - The qualifying period of five years should be
reduced to 2 1/2 years. At present, if the number of employees is less
than 15 no retiring gratuity is payable. However employees could appeal
to the Labour Tribunal. This exemption also should be removed to avoid
delays in receiving Retirment Gratuity.
c) Service Charges - Service charges to hotel employees do not
qualify for EPF and ETF benefits although liable for PAYE Tax.
Commissions received by Sales Representatives qualify for EPF and ETF
benefits. Therefore EPF and ETF should be payable on service charges
d) Overtime - At present the normal overtime rate is 1 1/2 times the
normal rate. This was fixed about 60 years ago and needs revision. EPF
and ETF should be paid on overtime at least partially.
e) Lieu leave – For work on Poya days, week-ends, and statutory
holidays, executives are not paid overtime. However lieu leave could be
granted when they work on weekends.
A person who works for 5 1/2 days needs rest. This is acceptable by
the labour laws. Due consideration should be given to grant lieu leave
to executives and others when they work on weekends, poya days and
f) Domestic employees - At present Sri Lanka has a fair percentage of
domestic employees. They do not enjoy:
i) Minimum fixed salaries and annual increments
ii) EPF and ETF benefits
iii) Eight hours work
iv) Leave facilities
v) Maternity leave
vi) Insurance cover for Workmens Compensation
vii) Retiring Gratuity
The Labour Department does not interfere in termination of domestic
At least EPF and ETF benefits and retiring gratuti should be paid to
domestic employees. A Post Office Savings Book for EPF and ETF payments
to be remitted by the employer every month could be maintained.
The present government has opened up several vocational training
programmes for youth of the present daywhich is praiseworthy. Youth have
a choice of their vocation. Professionally qualified youth are able to
find employment anywhere in the world as there is a good demand for
skilled and qualified persons.
Vocational Training Institute officers occasionally visit schools to
provide career guidance counselling. The Education Ministry in
collaboration with the Youth Affairs and Skills Development Ministry
must organise systematic programmes to educated the youth properly on
We have District Secretariats, Divisional Secretariats and Pradeshiya
Sabhas for public administration purposes.
Why has the Sinhala term Pradeshiya Sabha been adopted in English
letterings instead of the correct English version?
Pradeshiya means Regional and Sabha means Council in English. If so,
why cannot we call the Pradeshiya Sabhas Regional Councils in English
and the venue where its secretarial work is being attended to as the
Regional Secretariat ?
The two Sinhala words Pradeshiya Sabha written in English letters can
be pronounced and understood only by Sri Lankans and are a bombast to
I have met foreigners going around in certain towns in search of
people who are competent in their mother tongues to learn the meaning of
these two words.
This situation can be resolved by calling the Pradeshiya Sabha as
Regional Council in English.
Hirigalgodella is a remote village in the Beruwala electorate. This
village was formed in the late 1970s under the Village Re-awakening
programme of the government. The village, although was being gradually
developed, was suddenly neglected and has remained so, for the past few
years. Most of its gravel roads are full of pot-holes and are impassable
during the rainy seasons. Hundreds of villagers including schoolchildren
use these road with much inconvenience.
It would be a great service if the relevant authorities take action
without further delay to tar the gravel road leading to the village and
also provide a water supply service to Hirigalgodella.
The measures adopted by the government to implement several
programmes to improve the English language skills in Sri Lanka, are
Recently the Education Ministry recruited 10,000 English Language
teachers to commence English medium studies from grade six in government
schools, but unfortunately only a few students are found to be following
It is time therefore that a Grade Five Scholarship Examination be
held in the English medium to enable students of private schools to sit
and qualify entry to government schools.
The free education that they would receive under the guidance of
qualified and trained government school teachers, would be a great
relief to their parents.
Some parents have admitted their children to private schools for the
very reason that those children could not gain entry to government
schools, for some reason or other.
Most parents desire to give their children an English medium
education from Grade One onwards. A scholarship examination therefore
will be a move in the correct direction.
I hope this catches the eye of the Education Minister who is very
concerned of the future education of children.