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Plantation sector wage agreement negotiations to end soon: Minister

31 March 2016 09:55 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Floor price of Rs.250 per kg for rubber coming soon

The local natural rubber sector will see the introduction of a floor price plan by mid this year, a move that will be taken to ensure Sri Lanka remains abreast to the global rubber industry developments. Plantations Industry Minister Navin Dissanayake yesterday announced a floor price of Rs.250 per kilogramme for natural rubber would be introduced in the coming month.

The exact date was not specified. The decision to implement a floor price mechanism has been taken in consultation with the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) to keep the natural rubber market prices from being pushed lower. Thailand and Vietnam, amongst other natural rubber producing nations, have thrown their support behind the floor rate proposal, the minister said. It was shared that the final decision towards a floor price would be taken once the ANRPC, which will be in Sri Lanka in the next few months, shares its concluding views in this regard. Optimistic that natural rubber prices would increase with the oil prices expected to hit US $ 45 per barrel in the coming months, Dissanayake expressed confidence in the outlook for the sector being rather positive in the short and medium term.

„„By Shabiya Ali Ahlam The highly debated plantation sector collective wage agreement will soon see the end of negotiations with the plantation companies and trade unions, finally arriving at a figure that is digestible to both parties.

The agreement, which is scheduled to be renewed tomorrow, is likely to be signed in three months with the stakeholders having arrived at a daily wage of Rs.780, Plantations Industry Minister Navin Dissanayake said. The collective agreement that expired on March 31, 2015 should have been renewed on April 1, 2015, but with the employers and trade unions failing to come to an agreement, it was agreed to continue with the 2014 contract.

Rs.1000, but no one can agree on the current wage rate also,” Dissanayake stated yesterday. Currently, a worker earns a take-home wage of Rs.620 and a gross of Rs.687.50 with the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) components. Given the current prices, although there is a slight improvement compared to what was fetched last year, the RPCs were observed to be slightly reluctant to commit to any increase, the minister added. While there were talks on extending the private sector wage increase as proposed by the Budget 2016 to the plantation sector workers, recent developments in this regard indicate the proposal is likely to be dropped. The tripartite plantation sector collective wage agreement has been inked since 1992. During every revision that took place every two years, a wage increase was accommodated. The year 2015 was the first time ever the employers expressed reluctance in considering an increase.

Although the extension provided relief to the regional plantation companies (RPCs), the workers stood firm demanding wages to be increased to Rs.1000, a figure that is in no means affordable to the plantation sector given the grim situation in the global tea market. “The agreement is on hold. They are still negotiating the price with the regional plantation companies. The ballpark figure is Rs.780 and they are satisfied with that.

 

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