While some newly-appointed ministers have insisted that talks to reach an agreement with plantation companies to pay Rs. 1,000 to estate workers have been “successful”, plantation companies continue to stand their ground saying they cannot afford to pay so much and are pushing for a productivity-based wage model, The Sunday Morning reported.
State Minister of Plantation Industries Suresh Vadivel told The Sunday Morning that discussions were held with the Treasury Secretary last week on the instructions of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He said the Treasury Secretary is also having talks with the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) to reach an agreement.
“The discussions so far have been successful. We are waiting for the date to sign the collective agreement,” he said.
However, RPCs say they cannot afford to pay Rs. 1,000 and need tax concessions if they are to even consider Rs. 1,000.
The Ceylon Planters’ Society, which represents the planters, said that the situation, as is stands, is a no-win situation.
Secretary General of the Ceylon Planters’ Society Malcolm Dias told The Sunday Morning that unless the Government intervenes and provides some sort of assistance, the matter cannot be resolved.
Dias said that the Government can offer some form of tax concessions to the plantation companies to reduce the burden on them in order for them to consider Rs. 1,000 for the plantation workers.
“I don’t think Regional Plantation Companies can afford it right now. One way to solve this is if this is connected to productivity. But the unions are refusing to agree,” he said.
Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai told The Sunday Morning that the issue plantation companies have is that they can only pay wages from the revenue they make.