An estate manager and an assistant manager of the Alton Estate, Upcot in Maskeliya, Nuwara Eliya have been hospitalised following an alleged assault by female estate workers and others on 17 February.
Speaking to The Morning yesterday (18), Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) Media Spokesperson Dr. Roshan Rajadurai claimed that the assault, led by female workers and others in the estate, was pre-planned.
“A mob of women along with others have broken into the manager’s bungalow, pulled out the manager and the assistant manager, and mercilessly assaulted them. They were hospitalised and are in fairly bad condition. Only women and others were there because if male workers were present, they could be recognised. This was a planned attack and it has been happening for a while and we see a pattern.”
Releasing a statement to the press, the PA condemned the alleged attack and requested the intervention of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure the prevalence of law and order inside upcountry tea estates. The statement attributed this attack to “trade union-sponsored vandalism and arson”.
Dr. Rajadurai said that a police complaint has been lodged in this regard. He said that a first attack took place in the Kandapola estate in the Uva Province and a second attack took place in Bandarawela in January.
The PA claimed that the workers attempted to forcibly prevent a consignment of tea, ready for dispatch and to be sold at the auction, from being transported out of the factory. When a police complaint was lodged in this regard, the manager and assistant manager of the estate were allegedly attacked by the said workers demanding the withdrawal of the complaint.
The reason for the workers’ alleged objection to dispatching the consignment of tea is unknown. However, the PA has claimed in their statement that this alleged action by the workers preceded a strike action taken by the trade unions demanding the daily wage of Rs. 1,000.
When The Morning inquired from Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) Member and Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Marudapandy Rameshwaran, he said yesterday that he was not aware of such an incident.
It was reported by The Morning that on 17 January, a trainee manager at the Kandapola Park Estate in the Uva Province had been assaulted amidst a protest led by MP Rameshwaran and that the protest was alleged to have occurred following requests by the estate workers to release land at the plantation for their housing needs.