Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 09 October 2016






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Government Gazette

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 yesterday.

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 years.

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 reasonable.

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.


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