Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has asked plantation companies to try and come up with an alternative solution by tomorrow to the current deadlock concerning the wage hike of estate workers.
During a meeting held on Thursday, chairmen of Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), trade unions mainly represented by CWC, Ministers and Secretaries to the Ministries of Labour and Treasury and Secretary to the Plantation Ministry met Mr. Rajapaksa who requested plantation firms to come up with a reasonable solution and complete the wage negotiations by Monday.
At the meeting CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman had explained that since the RPCs were offering work at Rs.1000 to workers outside the plantation then it was only fair enough that their workers also receive the same amount, the party’s Vice President S. Arullsamy who was present at the meeting told the Business Times on Friday.
The CWC leader had also noted that companies would effectively be spending about Rs.1300 on such workers and therefore insisted that their workers must receive the same amount.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa is said to have asked the companies to come up with an alternative solution to the issue.
Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai told the Business Times that they had explained the dire conditions the plantations were faced with in terms of falling tea prices and that about 30-35 per cent of teas were left unsold.
In this respect the companies had detailed that they were unable to pay an increase of Rs.1000 and had noted that going forward the situation would be more serious in the future if prices keep dropping further.
He noted that the Prime Minister was considerate and understood their position and had asked whether the companies could then draft an alternative solution to the present crisis.
The estate workers’ wage discussions have been in a deadlock since the RPCs insist that they are unable to increase wages upto Rs.1000 due to the low selling price of tea and the problems they were currently facing in the respective markets of Iran and Japan.
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