Sri Lankan apparel exporters are demanding flexible labour laws and revisions in energy tariffs to facilitate apparel manufacture by lowering cost of production. “Energy costs continue to be a large and increasing part of our industry. We would look at removal of the fuel adjustment charge applicable under the tariffs which most of our members operate. With the commissioning of the coal power plants there is now a valid argument for the removal of this surcharge. Our association has made a number of observations to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and we would seek an opportunity to discuss these in detail as we believe there are some fundamental issues in the way the current tariff system is structured,” Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Yohan Lawrence stated at the association’s recently held AGM.
Lawrence also called for the implementation of incentive schemes for alternative energy generation, particularly in the conversion from furnace oil to biomass boilers. Meanwhile, touching on Sri Lanka’s labour laws, Lawrence called on amendments with a view to allowing factory workers to work longer hours while also allowing factories to run continuous shifts.
“Increased labour market flexibility will be a significant advantage to the industry as this allows us to have 24-hour/seven-day shift operations,” Lawrence noted. Sri Lankan factory workers are allowed a maximum of 57.5 hours in comparison to Bangladesh with 60 hours and Vietnam with 64 hours and a fixed weekly holiday. Continuous shifts may also have positive implications for Sri Lanka’s power grid, which would otherwise see a significant drop in consumption after peak hours.