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Hayleys tea harvesters win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place at national tea plucking competition

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Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai and Hayleys PLC Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage together with national winners of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Best Tea Plucker competition, Hayleys Plantations harvesters, M. Sivagami, P. Indrani, and K.D. Vijayakala


Celebrating the hard work and dedication of some of its most valuable employees in the tea sector, the top management of the Hayleys Group, including respected Chairman and Chief Executive, Mohan Pandithage, together with Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai, met with the winners of the Sri Lanka Tea Board’s All Estate Competition for the Best Tea Pluckers. 

Hosted by the Sri Lanka Tea Board in celebration of 150 years of tea in Sri Lanka, the national competition was first conducted at a divisional and then estate level with the winners qualifying to take part in a final inter-estate competition at Pedro Estate Nuwara Eliya, adjudicated over by a panel of judges from Sri Lanka Tea Board and Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka. 

During the heated final competition, three Hayleys Plantations’ harvesters – M. Sivagami, P. Indrani, K.D. Vijayakala – emerged victorious respectively taking first, second and third places at the all-island finals. 

A special gathering was held at the Hayleys Head Office to celebrate its winners – including first prize winner M. Sivagami who had just returned from a four day all-expenses-paid tour of Singapore accompanied by the Managing Director of Hayleys Plantations Sector and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tea Board.

“It was truly a proud moment for all of us at Hayleys when three of our employees from the plantation business took first, second and third place at the national level competition between harvesters from other Regional Plantation Companies. This is an industry which from its inception has been driven forward through the efforts of women like Sivagami, Indrani and Vijayakala. 

“The resolve that they showed in winning this competition sets an inspiring example for all of us and we wanted to do our best to celebrate their work and their dedication while spending time with them to understand the challenges they continue to face and what we at Hayleys can do to support them to achieve their ambitions,” Hayleys Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage stated. 

The second place winner, P. Indrani is a Talawakele Tea Estates employee from the Kiruwanganga Estate who received a cash prize for her efforts. Commencing her employment in the sector in 1967, Indrani – who has worked in the industry for four decades – expressed gratitude to her Superintendent, her colleagues, family and friends for encouraging her to do her best at the competition. 

The third place winner, K.D Vijayakala, also of Talawakele Tea Estates PLC, working in the Indola Estate, received a valuable cash prize for her efforts and was a truly special participant in the inaugural competition. 

“I don’t know how with everyone talking about the competition, but somehow I had forgotten about it, and for me it was just another day at work. So I had no idea that I was actually competing and just went about my day as I normally would and at the end of it, I was told that I had been selected as the third place winner for the Best Tea Plucker Competition.

“Of course I was very surprised, but in a pleasant way, and since I did so well this time, I’m sure I can perform a lot better and maybe even win first prize at the next competition,” she said.  A mother of three children, Vijayakala is now 32 years old and lives and works on the estate with her family. 

Among the most successful RPCs currently operating in Sri Lanka, Kelani Valley Plantations and Talawakele Tea Estates – which together comprise the plantation sector of the Hayleys Group - have consistently set new benchmarks in quality, and volume of tea. According to Managing Director, Roshan Rajadurai, the key to this success has been the concerted efforts taken by the company to implement, maintain and refine a structured approach to human resources management. This company’s pioneering approach to human resources management has earned Hayleys Plantations extensive local and global recognition, including a Gold Awards at the National HR Excellence awards, Asia-Pacific HR Excellence Awards and Global HR Excellence Award among many others. More recently, Hayleys Plantations also emerged as the winner of ‘Great HR Practices’ competition organised by IPM, Sri Lanka, parallel to National HR Conference 2018. 

“One of the most crucial challenges facing our industry today is the reform of human resources management. The effort and resources that Hayleys Plantations has channelled towards improving living and working conditions for every employee. Our work in uplifting and empowering plantation sector employees has been a proven success and the performance of our team at this competition is a clear example of these principles in action. 

“We believe that if our employees are properly looked after, motivated and incentivised to perform, then they will generate strong returns for the company. This is a win-win approach to plantations that when combined with potential alternative wage models like the revenue sharing model implemented in some of our estates, holds the key to a sustainable solution to the labour issues and other significant challenges facing our collective industry moving forward,” Rajadurai explained. 


An exciting journey from Hatton to Singapore and back 

An employee of Fordyce Estate, Dikoya of the Kelani Valley Plantations PLC, Sivagami beat 120 other tea harvesters to pluck an outstanding 3 kg of tea in just 15 minutes. 

“The competition itself was very exciting and we were all trying our level best to win because we all wanted to get that trip to Singapore. This was my first time travelling by plane and outside Sri Lanka as well so it was a truly memorable experience. 

“We have been told that the competition will be taking place next year as well and I am looking forward to compete and to perform even better next time for the competition. I believe that working in this way also helped to show myself and all of us that we can do a lot more and a lot better with just a little bit more effort,” Hayleys Kelani Valley Plantations tea harvester and winner of the all-island Best Tea Plucker competition M. Sivagami stated. 

Accompanied by Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai, Sivagami was treated to a grand tour of some of Singapore’s most iconic sights including a trip to the Singapore Flyer, Chinatown and the Marina Garden by the Bay. 

Starting her career at Kelani Valley Plantations at the age of 25, Sivagami has been a steadfast employee for the company for the past 26 years in addition to being a wife and mother of two children. She stated that her dream would be to earn and save enough to provide a comprehensive education for her children.

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