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Labour Minister to overhaul colonial era labour laws pertaining to children



By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Labour Nimal Siripala de Silva says the laws will be enacted within the next three months to raise the minimum age for employment of a person in the country to 18 years.

Representatives of the Department of Labour, the Attorney General’s Department, the Ministry of Justice, the Children and Women’s Bureau, the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) participated in the discussion on the future course of action to be taken to protect the rights of domestic workers at the Ministry of Labor on Tuesday (27).

The Minister also instructed the officials to expedite the process of enforcing the regulations required to revise the list of hazardous jobs already prepared by the Legal Draftsman’s Department through the regulations to be introduced under the Employment of Women, Youth and Children Act.

The 150-year-old rules pertaining to the domestic service community would be changed and new rules would be introduced for their welfare, he said.

It was also decided to require an employer to furnish information regarding a person employed in a household to the District Labor Officer and to include domestic workers in the National Minimum Wage Act and to amend the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) Acts to cover domestic workers.

New regulations will also be formulated regarding the working hours, leisure time and leave for the domestic worker community and to ensure safe and fair service inspections for them.

It was also decided to introduce a code of conduct for domestic workers to ensure gratuity payments.

The Minister emphasised that the objective of all those measures was to ensure the professional dignity of the domestic service community.

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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries



The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.


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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter



The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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