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Sri Lanka’s Garment Workers ‘Stand Up’ for Rights

A garment worker in Sri Lanka earns an average of 55 cents per hour, according to the World Bank, but Sri Lanka projects an apparel export target of US$10B in 2016.

“It’s a mental relief to be here,” Shirone says. “We work with a lot of pressure, and it’s very monotonous. When we come here, we get to talk, and there is a lot of mental relaxation and satisfaction from everyone being together.”

(Ashila Niroshine Mapalagama)

Ashila’s big idea to transform the Sri Lankan garment industry is by supporting workers and educating them about their rights so they have sustainable employment.

“There are many hidden costs for workers,” she explains. “These workers are separated from their families and are absent from family matters. They cannot obtain leave to perform many social obligations and become distant from society. So these hidden costs are not covered and the workers are under a lot of stress. If they can earn the living wage within eight hours, many of these issues can be resolved.”



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