Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake yesterday sounded wary over a planned hike in wages for estate workers ahead of elections.
“We have to be careful in not establishing a precedent," he said.
"If their daily wage is Rs. 750 and we give more than what we have promised during the wage negotiations, for the next wage cycle they will start at Rs. 850. Therefore, it is good to have an alternative way like welfare development or replanting instead of being included in their salary,” he told journalists in Colombo.
Although the Worker Unions have vouched that it will not be added to their salary, the Minister asserted that it will be given as a pay hike.
“This is a distortion of the wage that has been created. If this is included to their salaries, it will affect the tea industry as a whole,” he pointed out.
The Minister said he was not ready to release Rs. 600 million from the Tea Fund unless the Treasury provides them with a written guarantee.
“I have no problem in releasing Rs. 600 million from our fund to the Treasury if they guarantee that it will be given as a separate incentive. If I am told to provide our Rs. 600 million without any guarantee, I will not bow down to that no matter what it takes,” Dissanayake stressed.
When asked how effective this decision not to increase wages ahead of elections, the Minister said he is not a politician who takes decisions looking at his voter base. “I am ready to even give up on my ministerial portfolio and set an example,” he added.
(In keeping with the objectives of this website, all COMMENTS must be made in the spirit of contributing to the history of this estate, planter or person i.e. names, dates & anecdotes. Critical evaluations or adverse comments of any sort are not acceptable and will be deleted without notice – read full Comments Policy here)