Every Sunday garment workers in Sri Lanka who have lost jobs because of the political and economic crisis come together to cook, talk, share experiences, and engage in morale boosting activities such as games, singing, and dancing. This is the initiative of our project partner, the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU) who have opened Solidarity Kitchens with the local Women’s Centre in the free trade zones of Katunayake, Biyagama and Seethawaka.
Life was already difficult in Sri Lanka for factory workers after the pandemic, but the political and export instability has particularly impacted on the textile and garment industry which provides employment to 350,000 people and another 700,000 indirectly. Women are the backbone of these industries, and there are reports that they are being forced to turn to prostitution and sex work, as the economic crisis continues to impact on their livelihoods.
The Solidarity Kitchen movement increases solidarity by providing an opportunity for the women to hear of others’ workplace issues and talk about solutions. FTZ & GSEU is planning on extending this program to the north and east as soon as possible.