Responding to reports that 36 Sri Lankan workers were stranded at Bucharest Airport in Romania, the Sri Lankan envoy to Romania said the situation had arisen as most of the employees had refused to go back to their workplace.
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Romania accredited from Warsaw, Poland C.A.H.M Wijeratne said the workers had refused to report to work after one of them tested positive for COVID-19.
Accordingly, the embassy had intervened in the issue to ensure the company would provide necessary healthcare facilities to the workers. However, a quarrel had taken place in which some workers had caused damages to the company.
Nevertheless, the company had placed the workers at a hotel so that they could undergo quarantine. During quarantine, a few employees had been hospitalised after contracting the virus.
Once the quarantine period was over, only four workers have agreed to go back to the parent company while others had refused saying they could be targeted for revenge.
With the intervention of Sri Lankan and Romanian authorities, the company had paid the salaries and other payments of the employees.
Apart from the four workers, the others have urged that they be dropped off at the airport in vehicles from which they were to be taken to the company from the quarantine facility.
The company had raised concerns over the rationale of the request made by the employees since there is no operational international flight to go back to Sri Lanka and that Romanian borders remain closed due to COVID-19.
However, the company has offered to resolve any issue once the situation is conducive and asked employees to report back to work, but they had refused. The employees had meanwhile been in contact with an agent to seek employment at another company.
Ambassador Wijeratne said the demands of workers were unreasonable. "I could even go to court and stand by them if the company had wronged them. However, it is not so. There are agreements signed between the company and employees and they should respect that. They can't abandon it in order to seek employment elsewhere. The parent company is willing to take them back but employees refuse to report to work," he said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)