Implementation of Collective Agreement deferred | Sunday Observer

Implementation of Collective Agreement deferred

3 February, 2019

Following discussions that the government ally, the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), had with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday, the implementation of the controversial Collective Agreement (CA) on the wage increase for plantation workers, signed last Monday, has been deferred.

The TPA, an alliance of three political parties, two of which represent the plantation workers, and all three holding Ministerial portfolios in the UNF government, protested against the CA, signed by two of the Unions, with one refraining, and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon representing the 22 Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs).

Under the new CA, the supplementary payments of Rs. 60 (Attendance Allowance ) and Rs.140 (Productivity Incentive) were scrapped and added up to the previous CA’s basic wage of Rs. 500 making the new basic wage as Rs.700.

The boycotting Unions, including the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) that is one of the recognised signatory Unions to the CA, claimed that it was an ‘eyewash’ with no raise in monetary benefits to the workers under the revised basic wage.

The TPA delegation that met the Premier included Minister Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF), Minister Palany Digambaram, leader of the National Union of Workers (NUW) and State Minister Velusamy Radhakrishnan, leader of the Up-country People’s Front (UPF). Following the discussions, the Premier instructed non-cabinet Minister of Labour Ravindra Samaraweera to hold further talks on the matter next Tuesday, February 5, and to withhold publication of the CA in the government gazette.

General Secretary of the JPTUC, S.Ramanathan told the Sunday Observer that non-payment of the Attendance Allowance and the Productivity Incentive as supplementary payments in addition to the basic wage would further discourage the workers from attending work regularly and would contribute to a further drop in productivity.

Therefore, all stakeholders to the CA should take this into consideration while revising the CA in the future, he said.