Estate worker’s daily wage increased by Rs 200, to Rs 700
Sri Lanka’s plantation workers have been granted a basic wage of Rs 700, an increase of Rs.200, following discussions held on Friday at the Labour Ministry. The government will support the plantation companies to pay the arrears. The intense round of negotiations were carried out with the participation of Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake, Labour Minister Ravindra Samaraweera, with CWC Leader A. Thondaman who represents the largest union of estate workers and the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) represented by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe. The parties have agreed to sign a Collective Agreement tomorrow (28).
The Unions agreed to reduce their demand from the previous Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 700 as the basic wage. The productivity incentive granted would be Rs. 50 and the workers paid Rs.40 per kg of tea plucked. The norm for workers to pluck is 18 kg, but workers, on average, pluck 22 kg.
The government has agreed to release Rs.100 million through the Sri Lanka Tea Board to the RPCs to ensure they would be able to pay the three months’ arrears.
Unions and RPCs have been wrangling for months over a wage hike with the worker representatives demanding Rs.1000 and the plantation companies insisting they could not increase it beyond Rs.600. “This is a good agreement, as we could take this sector forward through the workers, and the increase in the wages by Rs.200 is a real achievement,” said Minister Dissanayake at the conclusion of the meeting.
Plantation companies have been insisting that the dire conditions on the plantations in view of falling tea prices and the large stocks that go unsold due to issues with certain markets, and low yields have caused profits to drop. Iranian sanctions and the Japanese government’s insistence of extremely low residue levels in the teas had reduced Ceylon Tea purchases.
However, now with glyphosate back on the plantations, the companies would be able to increase their yields and regain the trust of key markets like Japan.
Source - http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190127/news/estate-workers-daily-wage-increased-by-rs-200-to-rs-700-333239.html