Despite the government’s proposal to increase daily wages of plantation workers to Rs. 1000, Estate Employer’s Federation is yet to agree to it.
They have called for more work to be done to increase wages, and despite more than two years of negotiations over a pay raise for plantation workers, it has not yet finalized.
During a discussion held in this regard, the Director General of the Estate Employers’ Federation Kanishka Weerasinghe has stated that in order to increase the salaries, the plantation workers should provide an additional 2 kilos of tea leaves daily. The federation also proposed that every employee should work 180 days a year, as they have not performed adequate daily duties when paying gratuities at the end of their service.
Minister of Labor Nimal Siripala de Silva has informed the employers’ federation that a week will be given to take a final decision regarding the proposed increment of worker wages.
When inquired about this, the Minister said,
“The budget proposed to increase the minimum daily wage of estate workers to Rs. 1,000. During the discussion with all the employers’ association made several proposals. Among them, plantation workers should give one kilo of tea leaves a day and the 180-day proposal can be accepted.
“However, the government’s decision that the minimum wage for plantation workers should be 1,000 rupees cannot be changed in any way. We also instructed that if there is any company that is unable to pay the minimum wage that estate be given back to the government. In that case, the government is ready to run the estates either by the government or another management company. ”
Minister of State Jeevan Thondaman and Parliamentarian Wadiwel Suresh have participated in the discussion on the increase in wages and commenting on the issue, MP Wadiwel Suresh said that this salary increment of the plantation workers is a must.
He further said that he is committed to this and that it was a pity that the promises made by the previous government and the present government in this regard have not been fulfilled so far.
Commenting on the employers’ proposal that an additional number of tea leaves be required, the MP said that it is not fair to reduce the number of leaves plucked by plantation workers for crate weight and factory waste. However, he said that he hopes the law would take effect in January.
Although the budget states that a law will be introduced in January regarding the increase in the wages of estate workers, the law has not been amended so far, said the Commissioner of Labor, Prabath Chandrakeerthi. He said that the relevant action could be taken after reaching a final decision regarding the daily salary increase and that the government officials are bound to implement it after the government takes a decision regarding the salary increase.”
Presenting the 2021 budget proposal in Parliament, Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said,
“I propose to increase the daily wage of plantation workers from January 2021 to Rs. 1000. I intend to introduce a legal framework in Parliament in January to change the management agreements of plantation companies that are unable to pay this salary and to allow companies with successful business plans. ”
Increasing the daily wage of plantation workers to Rs. 1000 was also an election promise. A proposal was submitted to the Cabinet by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on February 14 after the current government came to power. The Cabinet approved a salary increment of Rs. 1000 from March 1, 2020. However, nine months have passed and it is not yet implemented.
The increase in the daily wage of plantation workers to 700 was made under the previous government and came into effect in January 2019.