ACTFORM meets Minister of Foreign Employment, Thalatha Athukorala

The Action Network for Migrant Workers (ACTFORM) met with the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Employment, Thalatha Athukorala to discuss the current status of women migrant workers and the measures that need to be taken to further improve their status at home and abroad.

This was the first meeting between Sri Lanka’s ACTFORM network and the Minister. Some of the points that were discussed at the meeting were:
• Finalise signing of the bilateral agreement between countries
• Removal of the law restricting women, with children under the ages of 5, from travelling abroad for work (Due to this law many women are obtaining visit visa’s to work abroad. This is not only a hindrance to their safety but also goes against their fundamental rights of being able to obtain employment of their choice).
• Ratifying the ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers – C 189
• Ensuring economic and social stability for returnees
• To implement the national policy that was developed in 2000 by the cabinet
• Recruit suitable officers and provide them with adequate training

As mentioned in the Women’s Manifesto, President Maithripala Sirisena pledges to accept the protection of children and other dependents of women migrant workers as a responsibility of the state, take protective action at the state level against abuse, maltreatment and injustice suffered by workers abroad and make provisions for a provident fund similar to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), an unemployment trust fund and gratuity payment entitlements.

ACTFORM as civil society activists are committed to securing the wellbeing of migrant women and are ready to support the proposed actions.

ACTFORM members Violet Perera, Manori Witharana, Ramani Muttetuwagama, Velayudan Jayachithra, Fathima Buhari, Lakshmi Wijesekara and Chandra Kasturiarachchi attended the meeting.