Tea estate workers return to work; talks on unresolved wage issue resume today
Negotiations to try and resolve the estate workers’ wage dispute will resume today (16) between regional plantation companies and estate sector trade unions.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, which is negotiating on behalf of the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), has invited the three trade unions who are party to the collective wage agreement, for talks at 10.30 a.m. today. Representatives of all three unions–the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union (LJEWU) and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) are expected to attend.
Negotiations are set to resume after a majority of the workers returned to work by Friday. Earlier, calls by CWC Leader and MP Arumugam Thondaman were ignored by most workers. The CWC had announced on Wednesday that the strike was temporarily called off. Most workers, though, still refused to come to work, claiming that trade unions had continually failed to secure their demand for a 100% salary increase.
Estate workers went on an indefinite strike on December 4, demanding that their daily basic wage be increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000. The strike, which went on for over a week crippled work at plantations and factories. Plantation companies said the daily revenue loss from the strike stood at Rs.250 million, with a week’s revenue loss adding to Rs.1.25 billion.
The Planters’ Association of Ceylon, the collective body representing the RPCs have however, refused to go beyond a 20% basic salary increase, which would see the daily wage being increased from Rs.500 to Rs.600. The demand has been rejected by trade unions.
Meanwhile,some estate workers, frustrated over the failure of unions to secure their demands, have now threatened to cancel their union membership and say that they will no longer pay their monthly union membership fee.
The collective agreement between the unions and RPCs is revised every two years. Unions had earlier promised to bring relief to workers when the agreement was being negotiated this time, taking into consideration the rising cost of living.
Source - http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181216/news/tea-estate-workers-return-to-work-talks-on-unresolved-wage-issue-resume-today-325445.html?fbclid=IwAR0VSPiyhpqsjKRDcj1c93fMRKPKcqlWN-pKkDvXmUw_ZhKantlSZxEuMSA