Sri Lanka’s regional plantations companies (RPCs) said a 1,000 rupee daily wage demand by workers would cost them a massive 18 billion rupees annually and was unaffordable when commodity prices were low and many firms making losses.
Talks between the RPCs and labour unions on renewing a two-year collective agreement governing wages have been stalled as both sides were unable to reach agreement.
The Planters’ Association,, which represents the RPCs, said the last round of talks was held on 15th July, “at which the concerned parties did not arrive at consensus.”
It said the RPCs were unable to pay the 1,000 rupees daily wage demanded by unions unless it was linked to improved productivity where workers plucked more tea.
“The Association wishes to highlight that if implemented, the demand of the unions for an unconditional increase of the daily wage to ,000 rupees would lead to RPCs incurring a massive 18,000 rupees million additionally per annum, for the payment of wages.”
The payment was “inconceivable with the RPCs already suffering losses up to 80 rupees per kilogramme of tea,” a statement said.
Planters’ Association also said they had not given any assurance that estate workers who pluck 18-20 kg of tea leaves will be entitled to receive two full days’ wage for a single day’s work.
“Therefore there will be no change for the present with regard to the daily remuneration for workers, until consensus is reached on the proposal submitted by the Regional Plantation Companies, enabling the workers to earn their expected daily wage of 1,000 rupees.”