Retirement age extension can revive plantation sector | Sunday Observer

Retirement age extension can revive plantation sector

22 November, 2020

In the EU member states, the general retirement age is 65 years. Spain, Germany, and France are about to raise their retirement age from 65 to 67 years, while the goal is 68 years in Britain and Ireland. Increasingly, the retirement age is being linked to life expectancy.

The OECD country with the oldest retirement age in Mexico, where men work until 72.3 years on average and women work until 68.7 years. In the UK,onecan claim state pension when he reaches the state pension age of 66.

Employees are the lifeblood of an organisation and can help drive the business forward to meet its goals. Older employees offer many advantages to a growing business.

Despite this, however, an alarming 85.3 percent of the people aged between 55-64 reports some form of age discrimination in their workplace. This number is staggering, especially bearing in mind the many advantages of age inclusivity in a workforce.Older workers are generally less likely to leave.

They are less likely to be on a steep career path and are more likely to be attracted to stay if they are given the flexibility and security that many require.

Industry-specific experience

People like dealing with people who know to the art of managing.Older employees often possess more industry-specific experience. Having more practical wisdom means that older employees are more likely to remain calm and level-headed in troubling times.Plantation cultures stand a live candidate to qualify for this need. Seniority matters in understanding problems due to accumulated (tried and tested) experiences.

Managing a plantation requires lots of experiences as it islabour intensive andbeing a resident business. The art and science of managing a residential diverse work force and making them inclusive in delivering agreed business performances require a high level of matured leadership that comes with the age and experiences. Although we learn of five ’M’s (Men, Machinery, Money, Markets and Methods) in any business, the plantations have an additional dimension which is the Climate.

Since agriculture is heavily dependent on climate, maturity in service matters in making quality decisions. A successful planter is not only heading a business entity for profits but also setting the pace with the workforce and everyone around him who expects him to be a leader and a gentleman.

The industry has lost many vibrant planters due to unplanned early retirement in the past. The decision-maker of the RPC sector, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon was vehemently opposing extending the retirement ageto 60 of the planters even though the staff and workers of the industry won the demand many years earlier due to their union strength.

A circular was issued on December 8, 1989 extending the retirement age of a planter to 60 years.

Some of the RPCs, such as Elkaduwa, Finlay, RPK, Chilaw, Kurunegala, Bogawantalawa, Watewela and Elpitiya Plantations did allow the planters to continue in service till 60 years. The deciding criteria are performances and not the age.

Sound decisions

The business performances of these RPCs are streets ahead of the rest. The reason is that the planters got to have tried and tested life/work experiences to make sound decisions.

The poor quality of decision making of the majority members of the Planters’ Association has affected their overall business performances.

Many political leaders have done their best to prevent discrimination against the planters,but the Planters’ Association was against the extension of the retirement age.

We thank Plantations Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Members of the Parliament for the historic decision taken under the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to extend the retirement age of the private sector employees to 60 as itwill have a positive impact on the industry.

As the country is aiming at being a manufacturing and agriculture based economy, even the ex-planters, like in the case of Ex-Service personnel can be called back for agricultural assignments. Their passion and dedication to uplift agriculture remain intact.

The Ceylon Planters’ Society is of the view that the plantations industry can generate US $ 10 billion revenue per annum in the country with a US $ 90 billion annual budget.

Plantations make their margins by investing in the land they manage. Plantations are the only contiguous land base that can be used for large scale agricultural businesses supported by its resident workforce and other inbuilt logistics.

The Government should bring in the right policies based on data and should be clever to understand the gaps.

State intervention is needed to make the RPC sector generate more than Rs.500,000 profit per hectare per annum to start with. Any decision based on uninvestigated mindset and on the foul cry of the NGOs could be disastrous and could affect the economy negatively.

The Agricultural Economists employed by the industry must be heard loudly before crash landing without any early warning signal.