Plantation industry has failed to agree on the implementation of the proposed Rs. 1,000 daily wage hike, despite two rounds of talks with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The meeting chaired by the Premier on Thursday was to take a final decision on the increase of the daily wage of estate workers to Rs. 1,000 from Rs. 700 at present.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister urged the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) take a positive view of the salary increase and submit proposals in the next few weeks. He had emphasised that a final decision on the salary increase of plantation workers would be help in preparing the Budget proposals.
However, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) requested the Prime Minister to pay attention to the challenges faced by the RPCs particularly the depressed economic sentiments globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Ministry Secretary Ravindra Hewavitharana, Prime Minister’s Secretary Gamini Senerath, EFC Director General Kanishka Weerasinghe, Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Jayampathy Molligoda, Community Empowerment and Estate Infrastructure Development Ministry Secretary D.P.G. Kumarasiri, Public Enterprises Director General Athula Kumara, Janatha Estates Development Board Chairman D.B. Abeysuriya, State Plantation Corporation Srimal Wijesekara, Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) Vice Chairman Senthil Thondaman, and CWC Secretary General Jeewan Thondaman were also present at the discussion.
The Rs. 1,000 wage increase was first promised during the Presidential Election campaign by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to win support from the estate worker community.
The RPCs could not agree to provide Rs. 1,000 despite several requests made by estate workers and unions, noting the financial and economic constraints. They submitted alternative proposals, which they termed as a ‘win-win’ for both parties though unions are insistent on the original recommendation.