Ten years have passed since the Free Trade Zone workers launched the struggle for securing their Employees’ Provident Fund. On the 30th of May at a protest, workers were fired upon by the police in the area, 400 workers were hospitalized and approximately 3,000 others faced physical and mental stress related issues.
Worker Roshen Shanaka succumbed to his injuries on 1st of June whilst the other 7 sustained injuries which resulted in life-long disabilities. The Mahanama Tillekeratne Commission was appointed at the time to investigate the incident and several recommendations were forwarded to the authorities. Ten years on, the workers are yet to receive justice from all relevant parties, including the Government of Sri Lanka.
The case filed against Roshen Shanaka’s murder is still being heard in the Negombo High Court. The hearing of evidence in this case is not yet over. In such a situation, it is uncertain as to how long we will have to wait for the verdict of the case.
The challenge that all will face is the possibility that the Pensions Bill that was defeated in 2011 may be re-introduced in another form. This is because, the present government has hinted on it on several occasions. Due to the unfailing commitment of the workers within the Free Trade Zone, the struggle around the Employees Provident Fund came to fruition. However, ten years on many currently employed in the FTZs have taken for granted their access to the provident fund, and pay scant regard to the struggle that culminated in this right being fulfilled.