Settlement reached? | Sunday Observer

Settlement reached?

27 January, 2019

Ending months-long trade union actions, island-wide protests and several rounds of abortive talks over the plantation workers’ wage issue, a settlement, mutually agreed to by all stakeholders, was reached on Friday fetching an Rs.700 basic wage to the workers and an additional payment of Rs.90. The biennial Collective Agreement (CA) between the three major plantation trade unions and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) representing the 22 Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) is to be signed tomorrow, Monday, January 28, 2019. A significant feature of the settlement is that wage arrears , with retrospective effect from the date of the CA’s expiry on October 15, 2018, will also be paid to the workers with the Government and the RPC jointly contributing to it. With Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake agreeing to contribute Rs.100 million from the funds of the Sri Lanka Tea Board and the RPCs agreeing to contribute Rs.50 million, the total Rs.150 million will be utilised for settling the wages arrears.

General Secretary S.Ramanathan of the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC), one of the three signatory unions to the CA told the Sunday Observer that this is a major achievement in the 20 year history of the CA since a 40 per cent wage increase has been offered for the first time and the Government contributes two-thirds of the wage arrears due to the workers. Ramanathan said that he was not certain whether or not human rights groups that stage demonstrations insisting on an Rs.1000/- basic wage will continue their campaigns but that the wage increase now offered to the workers is reasonable. The Rs.700 basic wage, with the increased ( 30 per cent ) Rs.40/for each kilo above the norm , the increased ( 61 per cent ) Price Share Supplement of Rs.50 together with the Rs.105/- that the management pays towards the EPF and ETF makes it a total of Rs.895 daily wage to the workers, he said.

Plantation Industries Minister Naveen Dissanayake, Non-cabinet Labour Minister Raveendra Samaraweera, Commissioner of Labour R.P.A. Wimalaweera, representatives of the EFC, delegations led by Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) leader Arumugan Thodaman MP, Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union (LJEWU) General Secretary and State Minister of Plantations Vadivel Suresh and JPTUC General Secretary S.Ramanathan were present at the discussions on Friday.