AN avalanche of labour unrest currently sweeping the country is causing several foreign concerns to pull out and is clearly damaging Sri Lanka's image as a foreign investment haven. The government has expressed concern over a series of recent incidents where expatriate and local management staff in several foreign investment ventures have been attacked and even held hostage by disgruntled employees. The local and international business communities have appealed to the government to come to grips with the problem and prevent such disturbances spreading. They have warned that the recent labour unrest and the lack of clear economic policy by the government, which has put foreign investors on hold, would be certain to dissuade new ones from coming. Worse still, foreign investment concerns already established could be forced to close down. On Wednesday, the Noritake Lanka Porcelain Factory started work after being closed for 21 days following an incident where its Japanese managing director and three other executives were held hostage by workers. On Tuesday, striking employees of Polytex Garments were arrested for attacking police outside factory premises. A US$40 million venture, floated by a Hong Kong-based Canadian firm, is making arrangements to close shop and move its operations to Burma. South Textiles Lanka, a spinning and weaving mill in the island's Pannala area, has had to suspend operations following a series of attacks on its management staff by workers. Matthew Chung, South Textiles chief executive, said they were suspended after two of its Sri Lankan managers were assaulted. One of them was stabbed before the 1,400-strong workforce staged a walkout. In a subsequent incident, workers held the firm's entire expatriate staff hostage inside the premises. Mr Chung met the commissioner of labour last week and urged him to settle the dispute so that work at the mills could be resumed. 'We are losing US$70,000 daily since the incident, and this we simply cannot afford. The government must find a solution in the name of national interest,' Mr Chung said. He had contacted his principal in Hong Kong, who had urged him to close down operations and shift to Burma. Mr Chung has been instructed to dismantle all machinery at the mill and send the 40-strong expatriate management group home. Analysts said the government would have to work fast to contain labour unrest from getting out of control. They have warned the authorities it would be ridiculous to expect an economic boom with labour unrest across the country.