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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Vehicle cushion workers ask concessions to reduce material cost

Sunil C. Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 23 October, ( Local small scale cushion workers ask more concessions to reduce the coat of materials to compete with the big cushion works companies in Sri Lanka.

The small-scale entrepreneurs said material costs are regularly increasing and they do not have a proper channel to obtain relief from the government.

Prince Wilbert, a small scale cushion worker who is based in Digana -Kandy said there are no training programs to promote the industry and the government is still not mediating on behalf of the cushion workers to end their problems.

At present the cushion industry is surviving due to the small-scale jobs from the vehicle owners. However a number of large scale companies follow cost reduction plans to defeat the small-scale manufacturers, he said.

"Our manufacturing cost is very high. We do not make direct imports of raw material. We have to purchase it from the open market. But large-scale companies import and distribute raw materials, earning huge sum as profit," he said.

Speaking to media, he said a number of small scale cushion workers are engaged in this industry and manufacture variety of seat covers, roof covers, canopies, carpeting and all upholstery works.

"They save millions of rupees, because they still use local raw materials, but purchase imported leather, Rexin and Canvas materials. If we can manufacture these products in Sri Lanka, we can provide a number of jobs and earn more," he said.

Mr. Wilbert who maintains his little workshop, assistance with his wife Susantha Kulasooriya, said the industry needs helping hand from the government for expansion.

"Most of the cushion workers do not have proper training, but now they are the experts in this field. My opinion is that the government technical colleges should introduce a course to train cushion workers and we have good opportunities from overseas as well as Sri Lankan companies," he said.

According to the local industry sources, the cushion industry is not a recognized industry by the government officials or by other institutions.

"There is no proper plan to upgrade this industry with the assistance of foreign experts," said another medium scale manufacture, who is from Colombo.

"If the authorities wish to promote this industry, unemployed youths in the rural areas can be trained to gain professional training and to start self-employment projects," he said.

According to the small-scale cushion workers, the industry needs a national recognition to serve the nation.

"If we import seat covers, roof covers for three-wheelers and other upholstery kits, we have to waste millions of money. We can export our products, if we have proper guidelines," he said.

At present a few large-scale companies in Sri Lanka export seat covers, car seats, Canopies and upholstery kits.

- Asian Tribune -

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