By Shabiya Ali Ahlam The already dampened status of the local tea and rubber industry will go from bad to worse, or even collapse if the plantation sector trade unions fail to come to an understanding with regard to the prevailing wage issue, warned the Planters’ Association (PA) yesterday.
“If they (trade unions) fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel the entire industry will collapse. We are trying to encourage the unions and make it a win-win situation for both parties. We are showing them a way to help us pay them, but so far they have not come on board,” charged Planters’ Association of Ceylon Secretary General H.M. Goonetileke.
“We have to go on a revenue share model. No more can we blindly give a wage and hope for the best. Under the present model we cannot give any increase, in fact we can’t even afford to pay the salaries that we are already paying,” he told Mirror Business.
In a fresh attempt provide a solution for all stakeholders, a ‘revenue sharing’ model was proposed to resolve the wage issue, but the trade unions are not in agreement, resulting in a delay in the inking of the plantation sector collective wage agreement.
The sector currently operates on an attendance-based wage model.
With the entire process having come to a standstill, Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake yesterday held a meeting with the heads of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), PA and trade union representatives.
As no consensus has been reached since the proposals had been put forward, the minister had called for a meeting with the objective of taking a firm decision on how to move forward.
While both, the companies and the trade unions have put forward their recommendations on addressing the wage issue, Mirror Business learns there are major differences between the two.
Sri Lanka tea workers requested for a wage increase as the collective agreement between the PA and trade unions has expired. Plantation salaries collective agreements are signed every two years and the last was inked in 2013.