Amend Shop and Office Employees Act: Seneviratne

Former Trade Union Relations Minister and MP W.D.J. Seneviratne today called for the amendment of the Shop and Office Employees Act.

Speaking at the committee stage debate of the budget, MP Seneviratne said the Shop and Office Employees Act needed to be amended for the benefit of a large number of workers at supermarkets and department stores.

“The act was introduced in the 1950s. At the time, there weren’t many supermarket chains and department stores. However, the situation is different today because we have such outlets in abundance. Those who work in these establishments have to work on all seven days of the week. They do not get any holiday. They have to work even on May Day. The government should take this issue seriously,” he said.

On a different note, he also called for the amendment of the Labour Tribunal Act.

“I have discussed the matter with the Labour Tribunal Minister. In the past, trade union representatives had the right to represent an employee at the labour tribunal. However, a decision has been taken to allow only lawyers to represent them. Most of the employees cannot afford to retain a lawyer. This is an issue as most of the cases are dismissed in the absence of an individual to represent the plaintiff. I looked into it when I was the Labour Minister. I even prepared an amendment to the Labour Tribunal Act and sent it to the Attorney General, but to no avail. I urge the government to amend this act,” he said.

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