Storm in a teacup reaches boiling point
The Government has mooted plans to draw up a wage structure for estate workers; an all- inclusive over Rs. 1000 with increases made over a 3-year period.
Plantation Minister Navin Dissanayake and Labour Minister Daya Gamage, during a meeting held on Thursday, have proposed to both the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and the estate sector trade unions to agree to a proposal to be paid with increases over a 3-year period.
Under this plan the basic increase would be upto Rs. 625 in the first year adding up to an all-inclusive wage of over Rs.1000; later in the second and third years the increases would be to Rs.650 and Rs.675, respectively, Minister Dissanayake told the Business Times on Friday.
He noted that this would also include the productivity incentives as well offered to the workers explaining that the increases in pay would improve according to the amount of teas plucked on the estates.
Minister Dissanayake wanted the unions to become more reasonable in working out a solution to the current impasse.
He noted that CWC leader A. Thondaman on Thursday during their meeting had rejected the proposal put forward by the government and was still insisting on the increase in the basic wage of upto Rs.1000.
The minister pointed out that they also needed to be concerned about the industry and noted that it was not possible to add pressure on the companies.
The unions and RPCs have been sitting over a string of meetings since the past few months however the matter continues to remain unresolved.
RPCs have been complaining that so far due to the low tea prices they were unable to give increased pay checks to workers and that their business was hampered more so due to a number of reasons beyond their control.
Sri Lankan tea has been having issues over the past few years with the ban on weedicide glyphosate that caused problems in the sale of the product to Japan due to high residue levels found in the teas as a result of the use of other types of weedicides. In addition the recent sanctions on Iran have hampered trade with them.
The RPCs as a result were unlikely to yield to any compromises that would hamper efforts to sustain their long term growth even during discussions held between the companies on Friday.