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More than 80% of vaccinated apparel sector workforce heads back to work

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JAAF reassures workers about safety and protective working conditions

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) has reassured workers about safety and protective working conditions in their factories, and more than 80% of their workforce – the vaccinated members of the personnel – have returned to work, a press statement issued by JAAF said, yesterday.

The government has taken into consideration the measures implemented by the industry in mitigating the risk of transmission of Covid-19 including the Delta variant.

Following are some excerpts from JAAF’s press statement.

“The concerns being expressed about worker safety in the apparel industry are understandable and are shared by The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and its membership. The entire apparel industry is doing everything in its power to address these concerns by working in close consultation with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other public authorities, in order to ensure that all possible measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of employees.”

“With the support of Minister Namal Rajapaksa, assistance by public health authorities and the Sri Lankan Army, 90% of workers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and over 50% have received their second dose. Specifically in the BOI-operated facilities – which accounts for approximately 90% of the total workforce – more than 70% of employees have received their second dose. In the coming weeks, the entire apparel industry workforce will be completely vaccinated.”

“Workers are screened for any symptoms before they are allowed to enter factory premises. Factories ensure social distancing and have dedicated areas for people to eat, toilet facilities etc. Several plants also offer additional measures such as steam inhalations, sanitization stations, herbal and other healthy hot drinks etc. “Anyone with any visible symptoms is moved to a medical facility immediately for more in-depth testing. Temperature checks are also conducted randomly and frequently during the day on shop floors, and appropriate action is taken if necessary.”

“Plants adhere to the testing protocols issued by the Ministry of Health, which includes random testing and daily reporting to the MOH of these results. These are also discussed and shared with the local health authorities through an online mechanism that has been set up. Further, local health authorities are in close contact with plants to help ensure that the workplace is as safe as practically possible.”

“The industry has supported the establishment of 11 Intermediate Care Centres with close to 4,500 beds available for employees. Another two centres are under construction, which will bring the number of beds to 5,000. Individual factories are adding to this infrastructure.”

“The importance of the sector to its economy as a provider of jobs, a source of investment and as an export-earner is well-accepted. During this pandemic, the industry’s economic responsibility gains additional importance. Workers have responded magnificently in response to the protective measures that companies have taken. Hence more than 80% of the workforce – the vaccinated group – has returned to work.”

“We appreciate their determination and commitment to putting the economy back on its feet at this difficult time. For our part, we will do everything in our power to ensure they stay safe and protected, by pandemic-proofing workspaces, making sure they are all vaccinated completely and that the protective measures and healthcare infrastructure is available to them and their families” said Secretary General of JAAF, Tuli Cooray, in the press statement.



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SLT-MOBITEL donates fourth PCR machine to Matara District Hospital

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Group Chairman of SLT-MOBITEL Rohan Fernando handing over the donation to Deputy Director of Matara District Hospital Upali Ratnayake accompanied by Dr.Thushara Vidanapathirana, Dr.Deepika Priyanthi and Group CEO of SLT-MOBITEL Lalith Seneviratne.

Recognising the importance to enhance Sri Lanka’s PCR testing capacity to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and to protect citizens, SLT-MOBITEL continues its support by donating yet another vital PCR machine to the District General Hospital in Matara recently.

The donation of the PCR machine valued at over Rs. 5.7 million is part of SLT-MOBITEL’s ‘Sabandiyawe Sathakaraya’ CSR initiative in further strengthening the nation’s healthcare systems and assisting communities in need.

The equipment was handed over to the Deputy Director of the Matara Hospital Doctor Upali Rathnayaka in the presence of Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT-MOBITEL; Lalith Seneviratne, Group Chief Executive Officer, SLT-MOBITEL; Kiththi Perera, CEO, SLT; Shashika Senarath, CMO, Mobitel along with Regional GM, SLT; Regional Head – Mobitel and Hospital Staff.

Previously, PCR machines were donated to the Base Hospital, Karawanella, District General Hospital, Matale and the University Hospital of the Kotelawala Defense University. SLT-MOBITEL appreciates the support received from all Sri Lankans towards ‘Daana Paaramitha’ which was conceptualized as a platform to further increase community involvement in carrying out relief efforts to support families affected by the pandemic.

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Extension of lockdown negatively impacts CSE

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE trading activities commenced yesterday in a lacklustre manner with little share-buying interest and later on became negative following the government’s announcement on the lockdown extension until October 1, stock market analysts said.

The Colombo International Financial Centre (CIFC) at the Port City was set to commence this month and has been delayed until December owing to the current Covid 19 situation. This also affected CSE trading activities yesterday, analysts said.

Consequently, the stock market lost steam yesterday, closing on a negative note as investor sentiment remained erratic due to internal and external environmental factors. Both indices moved downwards or to negative territory despite healthy turnover in the market. The All Share Price Index went down by 46.09 points and S and P SL20 declined by 17.93 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.8 billion with two crossings. Those crossings were reported in Expolanka, where 600,000 shares crossed for Rs. 101.1 million, its shares trading at Rs. 158.50 and Sampath Bank one million shares crossed for Rs. 49.5 million, its shares traded at Rs. 49.50.

In the retail market, some companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Holdings Rs. 1.2 billion (7.4 million shares traded), JKH Rs. 604 million (4.6 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 540 million (58.3 million shares traded) and Hayleys Rs. 204 million (2 million shares traded).

It is said that following two sessions of gains, the indices closed in the red due to price declines in large-cap stocks as investors opted to book modest returns after the recent sharp rally. Stocks such as Expo, LOLC, and JKH, which saw sharp gains in the past two sessions witnessed profit-taking at higher levels and weighed on the momentum throughout the session.

Further, high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Sampath Bank. Mixed interest was observed in Expolanka Holdings, Tokyo Cement Company and LOLC Holdings, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, Lanka Orix Finance and Industrial Asphalts. During the day 153 million share volumes changed hands in 24000 transactions.

As of yesterday, the current exchange rate of 1 US dollar was equal to 199.607 Sri Lankan rupees. This is an increase of 7.856656 percent (or +14.5401 LKR) compared with the same time last year (17 September 2020), when 1 US dollar equaled 185.067 Sri Lankan rupees.

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Lockdown takes toll on Sri Lanka’s manufacturing sector activities

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The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2021 has slowed down the manufacturing activities in the country. Accordingly, the manufacturing PMI recorded an index value of 45.1 in August 2021 with a fall of 12.7 index points from the previous month, mainly driven by the decrease in New Orders, Production, Employment, and Stock of Purchases sub-indices. The decline in New Orders and Production, especially in the manufacture of food & beverages, furniture, and textiles & wearing apparel sectors, have mainly contributed to the overall decrease of the manufacturing PMI. Many respondents in those sectors highlighted that their local orders and distribution channels were affected due to the lockdown imposed as a measure of containing the pandemic. Further, many of them also emphasised that factory operations were disrupted due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus among employees. Employment sub-index also declined in line with these developments.

The decrease of Stock of Purchases was in line with the decline in New Orders and Production. Further, the difficulties encountered in placing purchase orders and in settling foreign payments also adversely affected the supply chain of raw materials and production schedules. Many respondents stressed that the continuous increase in the cost of imported raw materials adversely affected their profit margins. Meanwhile, Suppliers’ Delivery Time lengthened at a slower rate in August 2021. The manufacturers cautioned that the uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic would continuously hinder the prospects of the manufacturing sector, yet, overall expectations for manufacturing activities for the next three months remained above the neutral threshold.

Services PMI dropped to an index value of 46.2 in August 2021 with the restrictions imposed to contain the further spread of the COVID-19. New Businesses, Business Activity, Employment and Expectations for Activity sub-indices recorded declines. New Businesses decreased in August compared to the previous month mainly with the declines observed in wholesale and retail trade, insurance, real estate, and education sub-sectors. Business Activities across most of the sub-sectors such as, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, insurance and other personal activities reported considerable declines indicating the adverse effects of travel restrictions on their business operations. Nevertheless, transportation sub-sector recorded some improvements solely due to the growth in freight volumes. Moreover, financial services sub-sector also indicated improvements despite the disturbances from travel restrictions. Employment continued to fall at a higher pace as retirements and voluntary resignations exceeded the number of recruitments carried out during the month. Backlogs of Work increased at a higher pace in August along with the reduction in staff availability amid travel restrictions and growing COVID-19 infections of staff. (CBSL)

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