Plantation workers reach agreement on daily wage

teaPlantation workers today reached an agreement on their daily wage following protests which lasted several days.

An agreement was signed between plantation unions and plantation companies today for a Rs. 730 daily wage.

The Planters Association of Ceylon (PA) said in a statement that with statutory dues, total wages will be Rs 805. A historic implementation of a new productivity-linked incentive structure has been added.

The Planters’ Association reiterates that the 150 year old, outdated, daily labour wage remuneration model must be changed to one where, instead of being paid for labour, workers are empowered to be in control of their revenue generation.

Through the agreement estate workers will now be paid a basic wage of Rs. 500, in addition to the Price Share Supplement (PSS) of Rs 30, leading to a total guaranteed wage of Rs. 530. A further attendance incentive of Rs 60 will be provided to workers who maintain a minimum attendance of 75% , while a new productivity incentive of Rs. 140 will also be provided for workers who obtain the estate/divisional norm, leading to a minimum total wage of Rs. 730.

Prior to the new agreement, which had been stalled due to strong opposition against clauses related to productivity from trade unions and affiliated political groups – the total plantation wage stood at Rs. 620 per day with no provisions in place to incentivize productivity, with the incentive structure instead being focused based on archaic colonial-era attendance requirements. However following the signing of the new collective agreement, estate workers will now be paid with a Rs. 140 productivity incentive for harvesting the minimum estate/divisional norm.

Notably, workers will also be paid an additional productivity incentive of Rs 25 per kilogram for green leaf harvested above the estate/ divisional norm, which if they pluck an additional 7 kgs a day, would accumulate their daily wage to Rs 975/-. The productivity incentive structure which the PA has championed for many years is the most pragmatic and mutually beneficial method of improving labour productivity while ensuring that increased wages are made to be financially viable. (Colombo Gazette)

Report by Indika Sri Aravinda