Labour Department insists no mandate to probe Covid related allegations on Brandix

By Indika Sri Aravinda

The Labour Department says it has no mandate to probe Covid related allegations against the Brandix Minuwangoda facility.

Minister of Labour Nimal Siripala de Silva has instructed the Labour Department to launch an investigation into Brandix on the basis that it had failed to ensure the safety of the employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Commissioner General of Labour RPA Wimalaweera told Colombo Gazette the Labour Department has no mandate to investigate anything related to the coronavirus.

“I have no authority to investigate how the staff contracted the coronavirus. All I can see is if because of Covid they have not been paid salaries or EPF and ETF. That is all I can look at and as of now that does not seem to be an issue,” Wimalaweera said.

However, Wimalaweera said that he has appointed a committee to investigate if there was sufficient ventilation, space and if the staff had been treated well under the factories ordinance.

Wimalaweera said that so far there is no complaint to say that there was an issue with the treatment of the staff under the factories ordinance.

The Commissioner General of Labour reiterated that the Labour Department has no mandate to enforce the Quarantine Act.

Over 1000 people linked to the Minuwangoda coronavirus cluster have tested positive for the virus.

A 39-year-old woman from Brandix was initially detected with the virus after being admitted to the Gampaha hospital.

PCR tests later revealed the scale of the spread of the virus at the Brandix facility in Minuwangoda.

Officials have yet to identify the main source behind the Minuwangoda cluster. (Colombo Gazette)

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