The Plantation Workers Agreement was signed by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the Ceylon Workers Congress, Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union and the Joint Plantations Trade Union Centre on 4 April 2013 at the EFC office. The agreement will be effective from 1 April 2013 for a period of two years.
The daily basic wage package of a plantation worker has been increased from Rs. 515 to Rs. 620. This amounts to a 20% increase up front for a period of two years. Twenty Regional Plantation Companies subscribed to this agreement through the EFC.
On behalf of the Regional Plantation Companies EFC Director General Ravi Peiris said that the companies which subscribed to this agreement to grant a revision had done so with a lot of expectation and confidence on the part of the trade unions and the workers. “Most of the companies will not find it easy to sustain the impact of this revision. They have agreed to it on the understanding that the workers will cooperate with them to increase productivity and efficiency.”
The new wage package will ensure payment of a sum of Rs. 15,500 for 25 days work per month provided the worker has an attendance record of over 75% for a month. In addition, the agreement has also revised the rate of over kilos by Rs. 3. This would mean that anything above the norm plucked will be paid at Rs. 20 per kilo.
EFC said the plantation industry has always upheld the dictates of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining in a very comprehensive manner through Collective Agreements, ever since privatisation in 1992. It is encouraging to note that the Collective Agreement negotiations this time around have been concluded much earlier than usual. Consequently, the benefits of the Collective Agreement can be granted to the workers right away.
It is important to realise that, although much could be said about the improvement of the quality of life in the plantations, it is the duty of all stakeholders in the industry to protect and enrich this industry which has been the lifeblood of our economy for many years EFC said.
"The Government, the Regional Plantations Companies, trade unions, media and the public – all have a role to play. Very often what is projected about the plantations does not help in improving the industry. It is time that all of us who are interested in the progress of our country assist to sustain this industry in a responsible manner," the EFC added.