South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The report commissioned in mid 2016 by Dabindu Collective of Free Trade Zone Workers titled ‘Living for the Day’: Contract workers in Sri Lanka’s free trade zones is the study conducted on the contract workers (engaged in precarious work) in the Economic Processing Zones and was launched on 30 January 2017. This study was executed by B. Skanthakumar of the Social Scientists’ Association.

Precarious work has expanded rapidly in Sri Lanka, even in the so-called formal or regulated private and public sectors, aside from the service and agricultural sectors. In keeping with global trends, a higher proportion of women than men are in precarious employment, regardless of whether they are in the formal or informal sector in Sri Lanka. One trade unionist has estimated that there are between 30-35,000 temporary workers in the apparel industry alone and more than ten times that number (or over 400,000) in other industries and sectors.

The study covers several aspects of the trend of precarious work: The prevalence and spread of precarious work in the country; an overview of the status of labour rights in Sri Lanka, with particular reference to industrial workers, both in the letter of the law and in the spirit of its implementation; and some relevant aspects of laws and policy in Sri Lanka to establish the status of contract work and the relationship of employment. The report also includes relevant perspectives of a range of key informants  on contract labour and manpower agencies, other than the contract workers, male and female, in Biyagama and Katunayake Free Trade Zones. 

The report can be accessed here