Plantation firm wins, for the first time, top chamber award
Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC won the prestigious ‘Gold Award’ of the National Business Excellence Awards 2018 conducted for 15th time by the National Chamber of Commerce (NCC) at the Awards Ceremony held last week at the Colombo Hilton Hotel.
It is the first time in the history of the National Business Excellence Awards, that an agricultural enterprise, more so a plantation company has won this prestigious award.
Roshan Rajadurai, Managing Director, Hayleys Plantations, speaking on behalf of the winner, said that it is a national honour for Ceylon Tea to be placed as the best tea in the world, but cautioned that the industry is faced with a grave challenge competing with other tea economies of the world.
While Talawakelle Tea Estates won the Gold, Silver was won by Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings and the Bronze was won by DAC Marine Services (Pvt) Ltd.
Continuing Mr. Rajadurai said that the biggest constraint the industry is facing is that they are paying the highest wages amongst all tea producing countries in the world, yet their productivity is the lowest.
He said that to overcome this barrier the Planters Association (PA) has proposed strategies to make the tea industry sustainable and dynamic, which is feasible to address the aspirations of the workers towards meeting increased wages.
He said that while the tea industry in Sri Lanka has passed the 150-year existence milestone last year, there are problems. It employs one million and another one million is sustained and depends on it, covering 10 per cent of the country’s population
Tea has a glorious and proud history and at the same time there are historical legacies and yet, he said he did not know of any other industry that has been subject to so much of contentious debate and discussion while it employs a large number of people, has a large extent of land in production and manages a large amount of assets and resources.
He pointed out that the PA model has been tried successfully in the smallholders sector of the country where about 75 per cent of production comes from them, which if accepted by the workers would unshackle themselves from the 150-year-old wage-based model to a more productivity-based model. The model which is successful in other places enabled the workers to earn well over Rs. 50 to 80,000 per month.
He said: “However, for reasons completely beyond our understanding the proposal was rejected by the unions which insist on the 150-year old daily wage based system which really discourages productivity and innovation”.
Professionals should be allowed to run the industries without politics and separate emotion from reality and sentiment from facts, Mr. Rajadurai asserted.
Thorsten Bargfrede, Deputy Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives was the Chief Guest at the occasion.
At the outset of the event, Sujeeva Samaraweera, President, National Chamber of Commerce said that the evening was a memorable one as this is the first time that they have offered so many awards and the second thing is that they have been conducting this awards scheme for the last 15 year
He said that there was no award scheme in Sri Lanka to recognise the business achievements and it was the wisdom of former presidents who felt the need to really look at the businesses and to see how they were performing on various aspects of the business corporates.
Source - http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/business-times/plantation-firm-wins-for-the-first-time-top-chamber-award-324962.html?fbclid=IwAR3Q6m9i_X_XLxuDCxdHcP2LQ5zJutcndvALe9JCq2bKmOFH62-ru3W89x0