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APPEAL: Helping hands to the victims of tidal waves

Report From
Anton Marcus, Joint Secretary, FTZGSEU
Sriya Ahangamage, Secretary, Women's Centre

WE ENCLOSE OUR REPORT on our visit to the Eastern and Southern provinces
that were among the areas affected by the tsunami.  We drew up a plan of
action that we share here with you in another attachment. The final
attachment contains the criteria that we will use to pick the beneficiaries
of the project. 

However all out present plans are subject to the government's official
policy on land for housing which is expected to be announced in a couple of
days. We hope that we will not need to change our plan of action drastically
or to change other aspects of our plans to build houses for workers. The
situation is still fluid. The estimates that we made on earlier exchange
rates too are changing everyday. From a rate of SLR 105 to the dollar the
rates have currently dropped to SLR 98 to the dollar. However we continue to
hope for the best. If the situation however warrants change in our plans we
will keep you informed.

Update on applications received so far (13 January) · 14 applications from
the Eastern provinces to build houses. All the applicants are members. ·
From the south we received 13 applications, out of which 4 are members.

We expect more applications soon because the appeal and our trip was
published in a local daily and we have received numerous phone calls from
would-be applicants.

More information for sending donations

Bank Code: 636
Bank of Ceylon, Lakehouse Branch.

Hope you will continue to support our campaign. Please contact us for any
clarification or information that you may need. We will keep you informed.

Yours in Solidarity,
Anton Marcus, Joint Secretary, FTZGSEU
Sriya Ahangamage, Secretary, Women's Centre

Following the assessment visit to the affected areas FTZ&GSEU and the
Womenıs Centre are now finalising a plan of action for implementing its
re-building appeal, including a predetermined policy and criteria for
selection and methods of accountability for monies received.

The union will continue to collect information and collate the forms as they
are submitted by members and workers in affected areas. It is also liaising
with the Board of Investment (BOI) which has established a data collecting
centre in Colombo for all information related to the tsunami, specifically
factories and workers who have been affected.

All forms submitted to the union will be checked with the relevant district
government agent to verify that the claim for assistance is genuine and that
all information provided by the applicant is correct.

Once these details have been verified the application will be assessed to
determine whether it fits into the criteria set for this fundraising appeal.
Details of criteria are attached as a separate document.

A priority for this project is the procurement of land to build new homes
for those affected. This will be a real issue of concern as the government
has indicated it will be releasing a new coastal living plan, which will in
all likelihood restrict the proximity of homes to the coastline. It has
however developed this plan without any consultation of those living in
these regions. The government has promised to announce its plan on Monday,
17 January. We will have to wait and see how our present plans will be
affected by government policy and how we are going to respond to it.

While some people are afraid to return to where their homes once were near
the sea, there are others who do not wish to give up their land. Displaced
people have been made offers of temporary residences in tents provided by
international organisations. However the government will only release a tent
to an affected family on the condition that the family signs an agreement
saying they will vacate their land.

Consultation with other groups has led the union to suggest a policy of
removing displaced people from refugee camps into some alternative temporary
accommodation on the land close to the site of their former homes. These
temporary structures might be in the form of tents or huts. The rationale is
that once people are out of the refugee camps they will have more leverage
for lobbying government for land to rebuild.

The union will work in collaboration with the Green movement which is
initiating these activities already. The Green movement will provide the
temporary accommodation and day to day needs of the displaced people; at the
same time continually lobbying government for land.

To implement its activities effectively the union will appoint a paid
coordinator for a period of 4 months. This figure has been included in the

Overall responsibility of the project will be with the Executive Committee
of the FTZ&GSEU and the Organising Committee of the Womenıs Centre.

Sub-committees of these governing committees will be established to assign
specific responsibilities, for example: selection criteria, supervising of
building, allocating of funds etc.

Overall financial responsibility will be with the treasurers of the two

choosing beneficiaries of helping hands project

All the beneficiaries will be from garment factories or the free trade
zones. There will be three areas of priority in this project. These areas in
order of priority are:

A. Death
B. Loss of houses
C. Damage to houses


Priority will be given in the following order:

1. Death of union members or members of the Womenıs Centre.
2. Death in immediate family of union members or members of the Womenıs
3. Death of workers
4. Death in workersı immediate family

Loss of Houses

Priority will be given in the following order:

1. Loss of houses of union members or members of the Womenıs Centre.
2. Loss of houses in immediate family of union members or members of the
Womenıs Centre
3. Loss of houses of workers
4. Loss of houses of workersı immediate family

Damage to houses

 Priority will be given in the following order:

1. Damage to houses of union members or members of the Womenıs Centre.
2. Damage to houses in immediate family of union members or members of the
Womenıs Centre
3. Damage to houses of workers
4. Damage to houses of workersı immediate family

In addition to the above criteria the following guidelines will be used for
selection within the priority where there are many applications.

1. Women will be awarded preference over men.
2. Preference will be given to family breadwinners.
3. Preference will be given to families where family incomes are very low.
4. The number of dependents on the worker will be taken into account.

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