Plantation TU leaders under fire | Sunday Observer

Plantation TU leaders under fire

Leaders of plantation trade unions came under fire from dismayed plantation workers for betraying them on their Rs.1000 wage increase demand and for calling off the strike midway.

The entire plantation workforce was on an indefinite strike from December 4, 2018, as called for by Arumugan Thondaman, MP, leader of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), after the several rounds of talks that he and other unions held with the plantation management companies failed.

Sections of the workers called off the strike while workers of many estates, specially in the Nuwara Eliya region, are continuing their strike with protests on highways, holding placards and shouting slogans criticising the TU leaders and also burning their effigies. They claim that due to the 11-day strike, made futile by the TU leaders, they have already foregone wages to the tune of Rs.7000 and are in financial straits for the festive season.

Some of the workers on strike are reported as saying that initially, they did not ask for the wage increase of Rs.1000/- but it was the TUs which insisted on the Rs.1000 basic wage.

Vice President of the CWC, S.Arulsamy, told the Sunday Observer that the CWC and the other two Unions which are signatories to the Collective Agreement (CA) on wage increase – the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union (LJEWU) and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) are meeting the representatives of the RPCs at the office of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon at Rajagiriya today at 10.30 a.m. for another round of talks on the wage increase issue.

Following the discussions, they will meet President Maithripala next Wednesday, December 19, he said.

General Secretary of the LJEWU, Vadivel Suresh, MP and Secretary General of the JPTUC S.Ramanathan confirmed that they have been invited for the discussions.

Arulsamy said that it was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister and leader of the National Union of Workers (NUW) P. Thigambaram who assured the workers, at election rallies in the central hills, during the run-up to the August 2015 parliamentary elections, that they will get Rs.1000 as basic wage for the workers.