Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke attends Consultation on “The Future of Work, Labour after Laudato Si” – Caritas Internationalis Consultation on Decent Work – project “The future of Work, Labour after Laudato Si” held in Geneva from 18th to 20th March 2019.

Caritas Sri Lanka among the selected member organisations privileged to be invited to the Consultation at the Officer of the CI representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Recently the International Labour Organization celebrated its centenary. The combination of ILO’s centenary, the framework set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development (in particular SDG 8), the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the publication of Encyclical “Laudato Si” of Pope Francis brought together a unique set of opportunities for promotion of the Decent Work Agenda.

CI in order to strengthen its capacity to adequately respond to the call of Pope Francis to generate and accompany processes that give rise to the Decent Work opportunities, recently joined other Faith based Organizations including Christian business associations, international movements and other Conferences of Catholic Bishops and organizations from other religious traditions in the implementation of the project “the future of Work, Labour after “Labour after Laudato Si”

In such a context, CI held a consultation “Decent Work – the future of Work, labour and Laudato SI” from the 18th to the 20th of March 2019. The aim of the consultation is to provide CIMOs with common definitions and practical tools to initiate, reinforce and sustain projects, programmes and advocacy campaigns etc.

In his presentation at the consultation Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke, National Director congratulated the ILO on the celebration of its centenary and promoting social dialogue and employment creation. He said that the special consideration given under ILOs decent work agenda and its inclusion of SDG 8 is commendable.

He further said that Caritas Sri Lanka being the social arm of the Catholic Church is privileged to be part of the mapping exercise of Caritas Intrnationalis under this exercise. He then shared Caritas Sri Lanka’s contribution towards the poor and marginalized communities through its network of 13 dioceses in the country.

Among the important projects that being implemented, he referred to 3 projects which included the Empowerment of Green Gold Harvesters which is focused on bargaining for the rights and betterment of both the living and working conditions of the tea estate plantation labour workers; under the project “providing legal and other services to Migrants and their families’, Caritas Sri Lanka with the support of the Swiss Development Corporation is working to prevent women, men and children from being exploited and protect them from the lure of human traffickers. Cognizant that migration is Right, Caritas Sri Lanka is working to ensure that it is done safely. This project is being implemented in all 13 dioceses. Fr. Mahendra said that there is much more that could be done to cover all aspects envisaged under “Laudato Si” especially concerning environmental issues. In this context he referred to the efforts of Caritas Sri Lanka in taking the lead to clean up several areas in the coastal belt which will be continuing during the whole of 2019. Finally, he also stressed that Caritas Sri Lanka is deeply involved in promoting sustainable agriculture to ensure food security by encouraging organic food production with the support of Caritas Norway.

In his concluding remarks he thanked Caritas Interanationalis, the members of the Steering Committee, the ILO and all those responsible for organizing this important Consultation and assured them that Caritas Sri Lanka will continue to closely collaborate with future programme undertaken to spread the message of Laudato Si”.