In the wake of indefinite strike action declared by Trade Union (TU) leaders from 4th December onwards, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) firmly reiterated the position of its membership – that a 100% increase in daily basic wages as demanded by the TUs simply cannot be sustained by the industry.
“All Regional Plantation Companies pay their employees’ through what is earned as revenue; however the demands of Trade Union leaders far exceed this capacity. At this crucial moment, we urge all stakeholders, especially those whose daily living depends on this industry, to consider the fatality of this industry and those dependent on it if impractical, untenable decisions are taken,” Planters’ Association of Ceylon said in a statement.
Planters’ Association of Ceylon said that RPCs have already advanced multiple productivity- linked models that could easily enable workers to earn beyond Rs. 1,000 per day. This time’s RPC proposal is a 20% increase in the basic wage escalating it from Rs 500/- to Rs. 600/- . A 33% increase in the Attendance Incentive (AI) up to Rs. 80 plus the Productivity Incentive (PI) and Price Share Supplement (PSS), all totaling Rs 940/- per day, amounting to an average increase of Rs. 3,375 per month per worker.
Additionally, tea harvesters who are able to bring in harvests above the norm will continue to be entitled to an over-kilo pay of Rs.28.75 per kilo in excess of the plucking norm which could easily expand their earnings beyond the Rs. 1,000.
The PA noted that current TU demands are devoid of any incentives which could in effect curtail the earning potential of the worker by locking them into a system that only provided for a basic daily wage.