Plantation workers wage issue:
Another discussion this week
Plantation companies and estate worker trade unions will have another
discussion with Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister W.D.J.
Senewiratne on Thursday, October 13 to agree on a wage formula for
estate workers who are demanding a daily wage of Rs.1,000 against the Rs.
730 proposed by plantation companies.
“We have some differences of opinion regarding some of the issues
specially on the number of days they have to work. Therefore, we
informed the Labour Minister that we need some clarification regarding
it. However, it has now been decided to have another round of talks on
October 13,” CWC President MP Mutthu Sivalingam told the Sunday Observer
MP Sivalingam said the country’s laws clearly state that estate
workers should be given six days of work or otherwise they should be
paid for it. It has been in the Collective Agreement for the past 32
He said attempts are being made to change these clauses in the
Collective Agreement. If any changes are to be made, there should be a
thorough discussion first. So far, the present agreement is beneficial
to the workers. That is why there will be further discussion.
At present, the Employers Federation has decided to pay at the rate
Rs. 730 per day for estate workers for four days and the wages for the
remaining two days, to be based on the weight of the plucked leaves.
Payment for the two days is to be calculated based on productivity, with
the basic wage being Rs. 500.
“This formula can only be applied in certain areas in the country
because the climate and the terrain differ. Therefore, we can’t agree to
this and we demand Rs.730 for all six days of work. We have
categorically said that this matter should be further discussed with the
plantation companies and reach a consensus as they have taken a decision
on their own,” he said.
Several rounds of talks between estate worker trade unions and
employers chaired by Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister W.D.J.
Senewiratne ended without a final consensus being reached.
Sivalingam said the Rs.1,000 daily wage demand by the estate workers
is fair on their part, but unfortunately the industry is collapsing day
by day. This is the problem at present. In a situation where the prices
of goods have increased, the Rs.1,000 demand by estate workers is
They also face the same difficulties that others face. It is not easy
for them to sustain their livelihood and survive in the plantation
sector with the wages they receive today, he said.