Up-country People’s Front welcomes profit-sharing model | Page 2 | Sunday Observer
Daily wage tussle

Up-country People’s Front welcomes profit-sharing model

21 March, 2021

While the tussle  between trade unions and the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) over the Rs.1,000 wage increase to the plantation workers is perpetuating,  one major union -  the Up-Country People’s Front (UPF) – said it welcomes the ‘profit-share system’ proposed by the plantation companies. It should be the initial mechanism for the plantation estates transforming  as plantation villages and the workers becoming tea or rubber smallholders, having lands on their own under a  long-term  lease as the source of their income in the long run, UPF Leader Velusamy Radhakrishnan MP said.Despite months-long deliberations and government confirmation through budgetary announcement, the Wages Board decision and gazette notification confirming the Rs.1,000 wage increase, the issue is yet to be resolved making the  workers’ long wait for the paltry increase even more traumatising.   Amid the wage increase issue, a majority of the unions have  insisted also on the fringe benefits that the workers were entitled to under the Collective Agreement (CA), but the management companies have stated that they would be compelled to do away with the CA and cut down on the number of workdays to offset their additional expenditure if the  Rs.1,000 wage increase comes into force.The UPF has stated in its proposals to the constituent assembly that the “estate workers and their descendants have to be converted as tea and rubbers small holders as an alternative to large plantation companies. In so doing the landless state of the estate workers could be solved and their income guaranteed. They could also contribute their share to the national income.”Some of the RPCs have already started trying the ‘profit-share model’ and it has been found to be successful, bringing income to the workers considerably higher than what they received under  the system  “tied to the daily minimum wage formula,” reliable plantation sources said. The idea and the ultimate goal is for the workers to become the tea/rubber smallholders, having their own land under long-term lease basis and engaging in other types of agricultural and economic activities for revenue generation, Radhakrishnan said.

The survival and necessity of trade unions for representing the interests of the plantation community would be reviewed from a different perspective as these goals start materialising in due course, he said.However, the ‘1000 Movement’ agitating for the rights of workers to ensure a decent wage is paid notes that workers are unlikely to get the Rs. 1,000 daily wage as all responsible parties fail to see eye to eye on the main issues of workers who have fallen from the frying pan to the fire die to the rise in the cost of living.