Collective bargaining in good faith
By Sonali Siriwardena
The option to seek relief for fundamental rights violations by a private citizen or company has not been sufficiently explored, according to Attorney-at-Law Shyamali Ranaraja.

Although the 1978 constitution appears to only provide relief for the violation of fundamental rights, such as freedom of association, by executive and administrative action, the Supreme Court in a case in 1991 hinted at the option available for parties through the District Court, she said.

Despite the lapse of a decade, no attempt has been made to explore this avenue of redress, she told a recent seminar on 'Collective Bargaining and Collective Agreements' organised by the Law and Society Trust.

The right to negotiate consists of the right of association and the right to organise, she said.

However, these are not unfettered rights but are subject to restrictions in the interest of national security and public order, she added.

The recognition of specific rights and obligations of workers and employers has today helped evolve mechanisms to regulate this employer-employee relationship.
The concept of collective bargaining is just one such mechanism which seeks to encourage workers and employers to voluntarily enter into agreements that help define and regulate their relationship, Ranaraja said.

The 'voluntary' participation of parties is an important element which contributes greatly to the success of the collective agreement, she said. Citing examples from the history of Collective Bargaining in Sri Lanka, Ranaraja said that compulsory recognition, where employers are compelled to bargain with a trade union which represents over 40 percent of the workforce, is not altogether a sound concept.

"Although it is justified by the fact that it ensures some form of enforcement, compulsory recognition does not necessarily enhance the spirit of collective bargaining because it contains an element of compulsion," she said.

"Then the converse should also be true," argued Vernon de Rosairo, Assistant Secretary General, Employers' Federation of Ceylon.

If the employer is forced to recognise a collective agreement, then the trade unions too must be similarly compelled to satisfy certain requirements, he said.
However, this is not realistically possible, he added. It crucial that both parties to an agreement hold equal bargaining power.

"It is also very important that trade unions consist of representatives of the trade and that the parties concerned bargain in good faith," he said. Commenting on the freedom of association, de Rosairo said that the most flagrant violation of this freedom is seen in the Board of Investment sector, where companies are denied the exercise of this right.

Ceylinco Life on the fast track in North-East
Ceylinco Life has announced plans to open at least four branches in the north and east of Sri Lanka in the 2nd quarter of this year, in a fast-track bid to support efforts to bring normalcy to the war-affected areas, the company said.

A high-powered team led by Director/General Manager R. Renganathan is working with representatives of these areas to finalise locations for branches in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kantalai and Batticaloa, it said.

These new branches would be closely supported by existing branches in Medawachchiya, Hingur-akgoda and Ampara, and Ceylinco Life would also appoint a new Regional Sales Manager for the north and east, company director Thushara Ranasinghe said.

"We already have a significant base of policyholders in Jaffna and Batticaloa from those who travelled out of the war zone, but the potential for life insurance has largely remained untapped since the private sector became involved in insurance," Renganthan disclosed. "This has deprived a large segment of the population of access to insurance."

He said the company would shortly begin recruitment of executives, sales staff and office personnel for the new branches and help the revival of the north-eastern economy by recruiting from those areas.

SriLankan Airlines runs media campaign overseas
SriLankan Airlines just concluded a massive three-month press/Internet promotion of Sri Lanka in Europe, the airline said in a statement.

"We undertook a massive campaign promoting Sri Lanka in our European destinations by using the mainstream print media and their websites," says SriLankan's Manager Corporate Communications Victor Abeyesekera. "This combined press and Internet campaign was enormously successful."

The campaign covered a cross-section of the mainstream consumer and travel print media in the UK, France and Switzerland, to which SriLankan Airlines operates. The press advertisements and websites of each publication lead potential customers to microsites in English, French and German which detail information about Sri Lanka and SriLankan Airlines. "There was enormous interest in our campaign and we received 28,470 responses in the three months that the campaign ran," says SriLankan's Advertising Manager Priya Epitawela.

The micro-sites also allow a hyper-link to the SriLankan Airlines website. This campaign allowed the travel trade in Sri Lanka the advantage of creating a hyperlink from the SriLankan website to their own sites. Therefore Sri Lanka Tourism, hotels, travel agents and tour operators could promote a whole gamut of facilities available to foreign visitors to Sri Lanka.

In the UK, the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Times, the Guardian, The Observer, Brides (magazine), Travel Trade Gazette and Travel Weekly and their websites were included in this advertising campaign.

In France, SriLankan advertised in Le Monde, Le Figaro and L'Echo Touristique and their websites while in Switzerland the airline advertised with Tages Anzeiger, Sonntags Zeitung and Schweizer Touristik and their websites.

The multinational agency Ogilvy Primary Contact was associated with SriLankan for this campaign. The campaign ran from January to March 2002.

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