The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) reiterated its call for cooperation among trade unions and political stakeholders, while urging all parties to support the industry in its effort to maximise the earning potential among estate-sector workers and ensure the sustainability of the industry.
The statement from the PA was issued following the resolution of an 18-month deadlock in negotiations between trade unions and regional plantation companies (RPCs) through the timely intervention of key government ministers.
“The conclusion of negotiations and signing of the Collective Agreement is certainly an important interim measure towards resolving the most pressing issues facing our industry. In that regard, we extend our sincere gratitude to Ministers Navin Dissanayake, John Amaratunga and Malik Samarawickrama for their invaluable support in securing a wage formula that is more closely linked to productivity. Their decisive intervention was absolutely critical and we appreciate their support in implementing the preliminary productivity incentives. Nevertheless, we strongly reiterate we must shift towards a revenue-sharing model in order to ensure the continued viability of our industry and the livelihoods of all Sri Lankans employed in the plantation sector,” PA Chairman Sunil Poholiyadde stated.
The new Collective Agreement, which was entered into on behalf of the estate-sector workers by the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union (LJEWU), Joint Plantations Trade Union Centre (JPTUC) and Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, which represent the RPCs, came into effect from October 15, 2016.
The revised agreement introduced a new wage formula comprised of a basic wage of Rs.500, a price share supplement of Rs.30 in addition to Rs.60 as an attendance incentive and a productivity incentive of Rs.140. Eventually, a worker who achieves the daily norm will be entitled to earnings of Rs.805 per day, including the statutory dues in addition to an extensive package of benefits related to housing, healthcare, education and social welfare.
A further productivity incentive of Rs.25 per kilogramme of green leaf and Rs.35 per kilogramme in the case of rubber harvested over and above the estate/divisional norm is on offer enabling the workers to increase their daily earnings significantly.