Financial Times

Plantations getting back to normal

Despite some plantation sector trade unions disagreeing with the latest Collective Agreement on plantation wages, signatory trade unions to the agreement and the Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC), say normalcy is being restored in plantations.

“Plantations have a number of trade unions. But the 3 signatory unions are the most representative of the workers. We have officially called off the non-cooperation campaign. So now normalcy has been restored in a majority of cases,” said the Secretary General of the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre, O A Ramiah.

“The industry has returned to normal. There were a few isolated incidents reported but we hope they will also return to normal in next couple of days,” said the Deputy Director General of the EFC, Kanishka Weerasinghe.

The plantation sector Collective Agreement on wages is signed by 3 trade unions on behalf of plantation workers, and the EFC, on behalf of the 21 Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs). The latest agreement, valid until March 31, 2011, lifted the maximum daily wage to Rs 405 from Rs 290 previously. The new daily wage is made up of a Rs 285 basic daily wage, a Rs 30 productivity incentive and a Rs 90 attendance incentive.

The new wages will be effective retrospectively from April 1, 2009 and will also spill over to private plantations and small holders. In total, the new wage structure will apply to about 450,000 plantation workers in tea and rubber plantations.

The present increase in wages is estimated to cost an additional Rs 6 billion for the RPCs. Meanwhile, some plantation trade unions (not signatory to the agreement), are demanding a daily wage of Rs 500.

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