Sri Lanka’s Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) have told tea estate trade unions that due to unfavourable conditions in weather and international politics they cannot afford a proposal to increase wages.
The tea industry trade unions and RPCs met last week as part of the preliminary discussions over the renewal of the Collective Agreement between the workers and companies.
Former Planters Association Chairman Roshan Rajadurai said that most companies were finding it difficult to pay even the current wages.
This has been due to the fact that tea prices have dropped to Rs.530 per kg from Rs. 650 earlier and has been compounded by a spell of bad weather and a severe drop in yields.
Moreover, it was noted that stakeholders must realise that the industry cannot pay more than what it earns and so “we can agree to an amount that we can honour,” he said.
These discussions were held amidst a backdrop of a number of issues facing the sector like the absence of popular weed killer glyphosate for use on the estates as a result of which some of the country’s prime markets like Japan stopping purchases from Sri Lanka.
In addition, sanctions imposed on Iraq and Iran have caused the market to fall and a significant drop in demand from these countries that is also likely to create a severe crisis in the future.
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