Breaking its silence on deadlocked proposals around estate sector wages, The Planters’ Association of Ceylon has offered a monthly wage of Rs. 25,000 as opposed to the daily wage of Rs. 1000 for plantation workers, proposed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
In deference to the Presidential directive, CEOs and other officials representing the 21 Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) met with various different stakeholders including Government officials and Trade Union leaders on 17 separate occasions with a view to reaching a compromise on wages.
Throughout, the RPCs had maintained that a feasible compromise to deliver the demand of a monthly wage of Rs. 25,000, without pushing the dangerously escalating cost of production and gratuity payments, any higher, should be the priority, a statement said today.
“As managers, we would like nothing better than to simply give Rs. 1,000 a day or more, but given the fact that we are selling a product at a lower cost than we are producing it, how could such a path possibly be sustained without throwing the entire industry, and the nation into further debt? We are all experienced professionals who are legally bound to take decisions that will not result in our companies going into bankruptcy. All we are asking for in return for such an increase is a firm commitment to a marginal increase in productivity, but the Trade Unions are adamant that they want something for nothing, even if it collapses the industry. Given how unreasonable these demands are, we are confident that the Government will intervene prudently,” PA Official Media Spokesman, Dr. Roshan Rajadurai explained.
The Planters’ Association of Ceylon said that multiple alternative wage models capable of enhancing earning capacity have been proposed and tested on a pilot basis by RPCs with great success.
The final proposal put forward by the RPCs calls for a 2kg increase to the estate norm for tea and a 1kg increase in rubber, together with a return to a productivity and attendance linked wage structures, which had previously been agreed to by Trade Unions and the Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) on behalf of the RPCs in 2016, but was later scrapped solely on the instance of Trade Union leaders during the protracted negotiations of 2018. (Colombo Gazette)