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Hopeful of amicable settlement:

Plantation companies unable to meet workers' demand

The plantation companies had a meeting with trade unions yesterday to discuss the demands made by the estate workers on their day's wage increase.

The estate workers in the tea industry are demanding Rs. 500 a day as their daily wages and the plantation companies have presented a proposal to the trade unions for an increase of a day's wage by Rs 40 at the meeting which was held late evening yesterday said the Plantation Services Group of the Employers' Federation Chairman Lalith Obeysekera. Estate workers in the tea industry are demanding Rs. 500 a day as their daily wages.


Plantation workers

However, most of the plantation companies have indicated that it will not be possible to give such a high salary increase because the cost of production will go up dramatically.

The profit margin in the sector is very low as a result of high cost of production, said Secretary General of the Planters' Association of Ceylon, Malin Goonetileke.

He told Daily News Business that a meeting was scheduled at 11 a.m. yesterday to discuss these issues but it was later postponed.

At present estate workers are paid Rs.290 per day and they are paid another Rs 10.95 for an additional kilogramme in excess of the normal quantity they produced.

The Planters' Association of Ceylon last week alerted the Government on the negative impact on the country's economy arising from the disruptions spreading in certain estates caused by estate workers as a pressure tactic on the ongoing wage negotiations.

This led to acts of sabotage including incidents where workers in several estates had prevented produce being despatched to buyers from the estates, disrupted power and water supplies affecting operations and conducted a go-slow. However, in certain areas work on estates went smoothly. Goonetileke in a recent statement said that the go slow would create many problems if the produce already bought by overseas buyers are not shipped to them in time."

It would affect the country's reputation and will move buyers away to other tea producing countries.

Director General of The Employers' Federation of Ceylon Ravi Peiris said he has already written to the Trade Union leaders engaged in the Collective Agreement negotiations, Commissioner General of Labour and the Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries about the negative impact such disruptions would have on the estate workers as well as the economy and image of the country.

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