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Estate crisis: If TUs, employers fail to agree:

Govt to intervene

Plantation Industries Minister D.M. Jayaratne told Parliament yesterday the Government will intervene to sort out the crisis in the estate sector, if Trade Unions and plantation companies fail to reach an agreement on the pay hike issue of plantation workers.

The Minister said: “The Government should be fair to both parties. When initiatives are taken to safeguard the workers’ rights, measures should also be taken to safeguard plantation companies”. The Minister was responding to a special statement made by Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera about the go-slow by plantation workers who are demanding an increase in their daily wage from the present rate of Rs. 290 to Rs. 500.

Minister Jayaratne said the estate workers’ pay hike issue should be considered as a key factor which affects the national economy. “Therefore this issue should not be politicised”, he said.

“No Government has fulfilled this kind of immense work for plantation workers’ wellbeing. The Government is committed to resolve estate workers’ pay hike issue. But we cannot allow to destroy plantation companies as well.

The Government should take measures to safeguard both sectors”, the Minister said. Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said estate workers should also get a better pay hike in keeping with the increase of the Cost of Living.

Estate workers get the lowest salary in the Sri Lankan Work Force, he said.

JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the present daily wage of the estate workers is decided based on a method formulated by a collective agreement between the employers and workers.

The Government should immediately intervene to sort out this crisis. MP Mano Ganeshan said plantation workers are in dire economic need for a pay hike and the Government should ensure they are given their due.

Justice and Law Reforms Deputy Minister V. Puththirasigamoney said some political parties attempt to fish in the troubled waters to increase their number of members by politicising this issue.

“There is no impasse or dead lock in talks between the employers and workers.

Trade Unions should be given ample time to talk and gain their right. If they fail to do so, the Government should intervene in this issue”, he said.

 

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