Plantation workers demand wage increase : Trade Unions seek Government intervention | Sunday Observer

Plantation workers demand wage increase : Trade Unions seek Government intervention

Amid escalating protests of plantation workers following the refusal of plantation management companies to accede to their thousand rupee wage increase demand and the indefinite postponement of talks on renewing the already expired Collective Agreement (CA), the Unions are seeking government intervention to sort out the issue.

Two of the three unions of the trade union joint committee – the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) and the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union (LJEWU) - that are signatories to the CA as also the government-ally, the Tamil Progressive Front (TPF) led by Minister Mano Ganeshan, have already held talks separately with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister Ravindra Samaraweera.

Secretary-General of the pro-UNP LJEWU Suresh Vadivel MP told the Sunday Observer that delegations of their union led by him and the CWC led by Arumugan Thondaman MP jointly held talks with the President, the Premier and the Labour Minister. The President, admitting that the plantation workers very much deserve a wage increase demanded by the unions promised to revert back after consultations with the PM, the Labour Minister and Plantation Industries Minister Naveen Dissanayake, Vadivel said.

Labour Minister Samaraweera has already informed him that he would be summoning the representatives of the plantation management companies and the joint committee of the TUs for talks this week to sort out the issue, he said. The last CA expired on October 15 and the unions want to hasten finalisation of the wage increase since the talks on the finalisation of the last CA prolonged for more than 10 months after its expiry, and the companies did not pay the relevant arrears on the increased wages, parliamentarian Vadivel said. S.Ramanathan, General Secretary, Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) , the third union in the TU joint committee, told the Sunday Observer, in consultation with the other two unions, he has written to the Labour Minister requesting such a meeting.

A delegation of the TPF, the three-party alliance comprising the Democratic People’s Front (DPF), the National Union of Workers (NUW) and the Up-country People’s Front (UPF) comprising Ministers Mano Ganeshan and Palany Thigambaram and State Minister V.Radhakrishnan also held discussions with the President, the PM and the Labour Minister.

The President had expressed the same views as he did to the other TU delegation, and assured to revert back after consultations with the relevant ministers, according to reports.