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Plantations must innovate labour solutions to grow


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  • Labour Minister warns future of plantation sector depends on innovative strategies to resolve labour issues 

By Charumini de Silva

Labour and Trade Union Relations Minister Ravindra Samaraweera said the future of the plantation sector depends on innovative strategies that will be adopted by the industry stakeholders to address issues faced by its workers.

Noting that the tea industry alone provides around 11% of direct and indirect employment for the workforce of the country, he insisted that it indicates the importance of the sector in terms of labour market as well as the obligation of all counterparts’ involvement in shaping the future of the sector.

“We have to find new strategies to overcome the problems encountered and protect the plantation industry which is important in bringing foreign currency and providing significant employment opportunities,” he said addressing at the first national dialogue to shape a set of conclusions for a policy blueprint on the future of work in the tea plantation sector in Sri Lanka organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last week. 

Pointing out technological advances, demographic shifts, climate change and globalisation are four mega-drivers of change that’s shaping the future of work, he said that dialogue among stakeholders and speedy implementation of new strategies are imperative in addressing the issues faced by the industry at present.

“There is a close relationship between each mega-driver and the role of social dialogue. I feel all these factors have a significant effect on the tea industry and we should try to understand the level of impact by these drivers in our country context through a tripartite forum like this. Social dialogue and strong social dialogue institutions are key elements to face the challenges of future of work in the tea plantation sector,” he added.

Modernising the plantation business, consideration of value addition in the supply chain, introducing new technology, improving the dignity of labour and raising minimum wage; while taking measures to improve productivity were outlined as some of the focus areas that the counterparts have to think of, targeting a better future in the plantation sector.

Pic by Sameera Wijesinghe 

 

 


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