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Sunday, 10 February 2013

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Plantation talks run into a snag

Talks between the plantation trade unions and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon which were due to begin this week to sign a fresh Collective Agreement on a wage increase for plantation workers have run into a snag, according to reports.

While the Unions were getting ready for the talks as the Collective Agreement expires on March 31, 2013, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) representing the plantation companies had intimated its reluctance to hold talks, citing a remuneration issue raised by the Ceylon Estate Staffs’ Union (CESU) in respect of its members which is now pending before arbitration, according to trade union sources.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon has written to the three major Unions that were signatories to all previous Collective Agreements saying that it cannot hold talks until the arbitration gives its ruling on the staff union’s petition, the sources said.

The Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) led by Minister Arumugan Thondaman, the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union (LJEWU) led by UNP Vice President, former parliamentarian K. Velautham and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) led by its President S. Ramanathan had already called for a date for the talks, the sources said. - PK Velautham has threatened that the plantation management will have to face the consequences if they refuse to hold talks, according to reports.

Velautham Ramanathan told the Sunday Observer that the staff union’s issue has no bearing whatsoever on the wages of the plantation workers and therefore, the plantation companies’ stance was wrong. They would take up the matter with the companies and insist on holding the talks, they said.

The CA signed on June 6, 2011 between three major unions representing the bulk of the plantation workers and 23 Plantation Management Companies, including the two State Agencies, offered a wage increase of Rs. 515 to the workers. Under the Collective Agreement the basic wage was fixed at Rs. 380 while the Rs. 105 productivity incentive and the Rs. 30 price-share supplement were subject to attendance and productivity.

 

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