By Nishel Fernando
After securing the Cabinet nod to increase the daily minimum wage of plantation workers up to Rs.1000 under the provisions of the Wages Board Ordinance, Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has issued one-week ultimatum to Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and plantation sector trade unions to reach a consensus to implement the proposed wage hike through the collective bargaining process.
The Cabinet of Ministers on Monday approved a proposal presented by Minister de Silva to increase the minimum wage of plantation workers up to Rs.1000 through the relevant industry wages boards, which include wages control boards for tea growing and manufacturing trade and rubber cultivation and raw rubber processing trade.
Under the proposal, the Minister noted that the minimum daily wage of plantation workers would be increased to Rs.1000, including Rs.760 as basic wage and Rs.140 as cost of living allowance.
“We tried our best to get both parties to come to an agreement. The window is still open for both parties to come to an agreement to implement the proposed wage hike under a new collective agreement, if they see a possibility of entering in to a collective agreement. However, I cannot delay this for a long period,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Labour Ministry is expected to move forward with the necessary measures this week in calling the two relevant wages control boards for sessions to get the approval for the wage hike.
Meanwhile, the Labour Ministry published an extraordinary gazette notification appointing members for the tea growing and manufacturing trade and rubber cultivation and raw rubber processing trade wages boards on 19th of this month.
After securing the approval of wages boards, the Minister is expected to issue a gazette notification declaring the new wage structure for the planation workers.
Although, RPCs and most of plantation sector trade unions appeared to have reached a consensus on the structure to grant the Rs.1, 000 daily minimum wage during most recent negotiations, the proposal by RPCs to extend the duration of the collective agreement up to four years from the current two years has been opposed by the trade unions.
RPCs in their latest proposal offered a fixed daily wage of Rs.1,105, with the re-introduction of attendance and productivity incentives. The breakdown of the proposed new wage structure included a basic wage of Rs.700, EPF/ETF of Rs.105, attendance incentive of Rs.150 and productivity incentive of Rs.150.
The current daily wage of plantation workers stands at Rs.750, including Rs.700 as basic pay, under the 2019-2021 collective agreement.
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