Referring to a recent protest carried out by a group of people against a legal decision made by a contractor of Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd regarding the termination of their contracts, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd said this contractual and regulatory dispute has arisen between a contractor company and its employees which they, the project investor company, have no direct connection with.
The full statement is as follows,
It comes as a shock to us that the group of workers involved in this incident have resorted to such a course of action instead of resolving their issues through formal and legal means with their employer. As the only project that continued to operate in Sri Lanka during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Port City Colombo is committed to ensuring the job security of over 1,500 local employees working at the construction site. Due to these sentiments, we are very much dismayed by a protest of this nature.
As a reputed and law abiding corporate citizen of this country, we strongly deny and object to the baseless claims made by the protestors such as the lack of medical facilities, sanitation and discrimination of local workers on site . We are committed to equal and fair treatment to all workers regardless of their nationality. The Sri Lankan workforce at the site is above 80% and the expat workers are only involved with specialized work which requires experience in handling relevant machineries. We have been maintaining the highest safety standards which are regularly monitored by well reputed local and foreign standard control institutions. Moreover, the project is a Public-Private Partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka subject to constant supervision by the relevant line ministries and agencies. It is also saddening to see that prominent media organizations carried visuals of emotional placards displayed by the protesters, questioning the sovereignty of Port City Colombo. It is a widely known fact that the Port City Colombo has been declared as a part of Colombo and Sri Lanka, which was passed through the Parliament proceedings and vested with Urban Development Authority by late last year. Therefore, we are of the belief that these emotional sentiments put forward by the protesters are baseless and unnecessary.
After the lockdown, when the project resumed as per the Government health regulations, the project company took precautionary measures by performing free -of-charge PCR tests twice on returning local employees and implementing self-isolation for the stipulated time frame before being entered to the site. Returning employees are given accommodation with all the facilities provided including space for leisure. This is a facility provided to workers as they are required to reside and work on -site without leaving the premises for a period of time as a precaution to COVID-19.
However, considering the country’s successful status on containing the COVID-19, the project management has decided to allow local staff in and out movement from the site just as before. Although the company has taken all health precaution with priority given to the staff safety, it's unfortunate to see a small group of employees trying to jeopardize the safety of all employees’ by not abiding by the safety and other regulations.
However as the project company, we at CH EC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd have advised the contractor to resolve this issue within the legal framework as soon as possible without prejudice to any party.
The Port City Colombo Project, greatly attributed to as the largest single foreign direct investment project in Sri Lanka as well as the largest ongoing urban development project, is currently in the process of acquiring services from a large number of local subcontractors, generating over 8,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities to the local workforce. Though the project's construction has been slowed due to the prevailing COVID-19 crisis, with the country'ssteady recovery, construction too has surely resumed. As a result, more than 1,000 local employees have returned to work at the Port City Colombo site, strictly following government guidelines for health and safety. After the pandemic, the project anticipates facing difficulties such as restrictions in importation of necessary materials, local supp lies and limiting local workers due to compliance with Government health regulations. However, we continue our commitment in adhering to the timeline of the project with optimism about the future of Sri Lanka.