Feature image taken from solidaritycenter.org
The Solidarity Center is a non-profit international labor advocacy organization aligned with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations AFL-CIO. The Colombo branch, which I have taken on an internship at covers the regions of Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Nepal, helping these governments and civil society organize and solve labor issues. My interests in such an institution arose from my ever-growing fondness of problem-solving in global issues in the macro sense. From my summer of exploration discovering my interests in economic development and overall heightened humanitarian wellbeing, I was inspired to take on a more hands-on approach to this issue as I reside in a developing world myself and can observe many of the issues that I have been studying.
Labor is indeed an integral part of the economy as the workers are the ones who run the economy in our capitalistic society. As the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show in their 8th goal, Decent Work & Economic Growth, one crucial factor in the economy are the people who run it. As such, I was dismayed by some of the practices occurring in the Middle East where migrant workers from Sri Lanka are being treated unjustly. Some of these issues include wage theft, abuse, manipulation, and overall misconduct of client-worker relations. Of course, this does not happen in all instances but migrant workers are especially at risk in these situations due to their vulnerability.
At the Solidarity Center, I worked on writing minutes during webinar talks on migrant worker issues in the South Asia region with many great speakers such as Felipe Gonzalez Morales and Minoli Don. It was an honor to be a part of this massive network of a labor rights machine as the organization brings together people and workers and various groups together to come together for a discussion on how to handle the issues they face. I made sure I had taken down the key points in any discussion from a speaker and I sent it to my boss for his review. I even attended a live discussion of the civil society groups in Sri Lanka at the Hilton Residences where the issue of implementing the Global Compact for Migration, a guideline for governments to adopt for labor practices, was put forth to lawyers, trade unions, and enterprises. It was an incredible experience to witness the interplay of various sectors of society in a coherent and well-functioning event.
Furthermore, I am currently working on an extensive report on the Sri Lankan government’s implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: decent work & economic growth. It includes a broad range of statistical analysis on public policy achievements over the years, cross-referenced between government reported documents and World Bank statistics and more. This is to ensure the credibility of the data and to paint a more accurate picture of Sri Lanka’s current situation in their progress.