Technology to tackle fraudulent weighing techniques in tea estates
Raj Moorthy / The Sunday Times , 2019-05-12
NUWARA ELIYA– While daily wages are a major challenge for estate workers in the plantation sector in Sri Lanka, a key factor among tea estate workers is the weight of tea plucked by each individual not being calculated to the person who plucks tea leaves. Estate managers are seen favouring some of the other tea pluckers who are advantageous to them and they get paid well with a small cut going to estate mangers’ pockets by the end of the month.
Hayleys Plantations has come up with a technology to tackle this favouritism among the estate managers by introducing identification cards to all its estate workers (tea pluckers). The identification card is scanned on a mobile phone which has a bluetooth connectivity to an electronic weighing scale and then recorded on an online data base where each estate worker knows how much tea they have plucked during the day and it will automatically be calculated by the end of the month for payments. This data base is made online so that the management of Hayleys Plantations can view and monitor how much tea is plucked per day, per month, per week and by per person eliminating manual book keeping and fraudulent activities.
Recently the Business Times was among a group of media colleagues who were taken on a tour to the Hayleys Kelani Valley Plantations in Nuwara Eliya to explore how the new technology benefits estate workers. The tour also helped understand how tea estates are well maintained and a factory visit which gave a glimpse of the process of tea manufacturing and the lifestyles of estate workers there.
During the tour, Kelani Valley Plantations PLC, HR and Corporate Sustainability, Deputy General Manager, Anuruddha Gamage told the Business Times that tea pluckers work for a minimum of eight hours a day and on average they pluck around 18-20 kg of tea. If this number exceeds 20 kg their daily wage increases, he added.
He also explained the lifetime of a tea plant. It takes three years for a tea seed to grow into a plant. Plucked tea is withered for 12-14 hours to remove moisture. Around 10,000-12,000 thousand leaves are plucked per day. Withered leaves are then rolled which is known as oxidisation and then filtered and left to dry again. The leaves are rolled into tiny particles and dried further to obtain pure tea.
Workers at the estates have benefits such as free medical facilities, free education for kids and so on. It was also mentioned during the tour that Hayleys Plantations has invested around Rs. 9 million in 2017 and 2018, and Rs. 11 million so far this year on training and development of estate workers.
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