Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations John Seneviratne addresses the event while (from left): Employer’s Federation of Ceylon Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe, Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations Secretary Gotabaya Jayaratne, ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Director Donglin Li and National Union of Seafarers of Sri Lanka President Palitha Athukorale look on
The Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations, together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), organised the first Symposium on Sustainable Development Goals and Decent Work on 11 December in Colombo.
The Chief Guest at the Symposium was Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations W.D.J. Seneviratne. Speaking at the event the Minister stated: “There are a number of issues that we have to strategically address. Persistence of youth unemployment, lack of social protection for all, informal employment, productivity improvement and enterprise development are some of the issues which require strategic approaches and policy coherence.”
Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations Gotabaya Jayaratne making the welcome address stated that the mandate of the Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations is to implement national policies on labour and to ensure the implementation of the labour laws of the country towards better economic and social development. He also highlighted that the tripartite strategic approach is based on decent work.
Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe spoke on behalf of the employers. He stated that it is a privilege to be associated with the symposium and stated that the policies of EFC will have to be broadened to accommodate the values of SDGs. He assured that the EFC would extend its fullest cooperation to the Ministry to achieve the goals and policy implementation process of the country for decent work.
National Union of Seafarers of Sri Lanka President Palitha Athukorale stated that that it is timely to have this discussion, particularly at the end of the MDGs and the beginning of SDGs. He added that it is also timely for the country to evaluate the progress made in relation to social security and other basic rights as was targeted in the MDGs and to make recommendations. He concluded that the outcome and recommendations of the symposium would be taken into consideration by the Government of Sri Lanka and incorporated into national policy framework.
Speaking at this event ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Donglin Li stressed, “The theme of the Symposium on SDGs and DW is a very topical issue that is being currently discussed in many circles. Recognising the importance of decent work, the SDGs have created a separate goal to encompass decent work as Goal 8. More people in decent work, ensures a stronger and more inclusive economic growth and improved growth provides more resources to create decent jobs. Decent work for all reduces inequities in the country and contributes in increasing resilience and social justice.”
Representatives from all ministries including Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations, Trade Unions, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, academia and UN and bilateral agencies were also present at the event. Three panel discussions followed the opening and were on the topics of sustainable development goals and employment creation; SDG and social protection; and labour rights, SDG and tripartism and social dialogue were also held during the symposium.