By Easwaran Rutnam
The Government has threatened to reevaluate or terminate an agreement with plantation companies that refuse to pay a Rs. 1000 daily wage to estate workers.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had proposed in the 2021 budget that the daily wage for plantation workers be increased to Rs. 1000 from January 2021.
However, plantation companies had said that the huge losses incurred by them will prevent them from agreeing to pay the full Rs. 1000 unless its subsidized by the government.
State Minister of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman told Daily Mirror that the government will reevaluate its agreement with any company refusing to pay Rs. 1000.
He said that the government has given the land on lease to 32 Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) under an agreement signed between both parties.
However, Thondaman said that some RPCs do not pay EPF and ETF to their workers claiming they are running at a loss.
“What they do is rotate the money. They then claim they are operating at a loss,” he said.
Thondaman said that if the companies are running at a loss and refuse to pay Rs. 1000 as a daily wage the government is within its right to reevaluate or terminate the original agreement with the respective companies.
Addressing an online press conference recently, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) said that plantation trade unions and politicians will need to accept a proposed alternative wage model.
The Association said that the proposed model will ensure plantation workers earn much more than Rs. 1000 a day, depending on performance.
Asked by Daily Mirror if the authorities and trade unions will agree to the proposed model, considering that it had been rejected earlier, PA Media Spokesperson Dr. Roshan Rajadurai said that they will have no choice.
Dr. Rajadurai had noted that failure to accept the proposal will only hurt the industry further. (Courtesy Daily Mirror)