Ganga K. Rathnayake

B.Com., M.Com.

PhD student NUI Galway

Ms. Ganga K. Rathnayake is a lecturer in the Department of Commerce and Financial Management at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She holds B.Comm. and M.Comm degrees obtained from the University of Kelaniya. Her teaching interests include HR development, business mathematics, and information technology and her research interests include HR Development and labour relations. Further, she is a Chief Examiner for GCE A/L, Business studies subject (General Certificate of Education Advance Level examination conduct by Department of Examination, Sri Lanka) and Coordinator for Distance Learning Education of the Commerce stream conducted by the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

Global value chains and labour relations in the Sri Lankan garment industry

The apparel industry plays a leading role in the Sri Lankan economy and contributes greatly to the country’s production, employment, exports, and foreign exchange earnings. The apparel industry is also a suitable example for evaluating value chains and the contribution of labour to the industries in Sri Lanka. Despite the industry’s positive contribution to the Sri Lankan economy, employees in this sector do not obtain commensurate benefits even though they have to contend with difficult working conditions.

This thesis will analyze the above situation through locating the labour contribution in the value chain of the apparel industry and analyzing the labour relations under which this contribution takes place. An awareness of their valuable contribution to the value chain would be beneficial to employees, most of whom are female and poorly educated. In addition, in the present era, the Sri Lankan apparel industry has to adopt new upgraded production techniques in order to compete with other foreign apparel products, compounded by reductions in MFA (Multi Fibre Arrangement) quotas since 1974. This thesis will also investigate whether this altered position is accompanied by changes in labour relations within the Sri Lankan apparel industry.

The are only slight literatures on employees’ contribution to the value chain carried in the Sri Lankan context. In addition, there has been no formal research into the type of functional upgrading methods which would be suitable for Sri Lankan apparel companies facing global apparel competition after the ending of quota benefits. Therefore, this thesis will analyze the overall impact of the above conditions and make possible suggestions to overcome these problems.

Keywords Sri Lanka, free trade zones, garment industry, value chains, labour relations, competition, survival


PhD research funding

  • World Bank PhD fellowship

Head of Economics

Prof Alan Ahearne

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