By Shezna Shums
Discussions regarding the basic wage of plantation workers with the Employers Federation of Ceylon yesterday saw a second offer put forward by the federation. However, the trade union representatives were still contemplating this offer and no reply was given regarding this second basic wage offer.
Planters’ Association Chairman Lalith Obeysekera said that following the rejection of the first offer put forward, yesterday a second offer had been put to the table. “We are now awaiting a response from them,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ceylon Workers’ Congress Vice President S. Sathasivan, a former Member of Parliament, said that the unions were still holding discussions late into the night regarding yesterday’s meeting.
The collective agreement between the plantation companies and the plantation trade union representatives ended 31 March and yesterday’s meeting was the fourth time both parties met to discuss the major issue of the basic wage of a plantation worker.
Other issues regarding plantation workers will be included in the collective agreement and will be discussed in the following meetings.
Currently a plantation worker earns a basic wage of Rs. 285 and added to this are other allowances based on individual worker’s productivity.
Taking these factors into account, the basic wage of Rs. 285 and allowances may add up to Rs. 405 a day.
However, what the unions are demanding is that the basic wage of a plantation worker be increased to Rs. 500 per day, and other payments such as incentive allowances be added to it.
The plantation companies through the federation stated that a wage increase would be provided, but that only an increase that is sustainable and affordable to the companies would be considered.
The plantations union officials had stated previously that they hoped these negotiations would work out; and that if the talks fail they may consider trade union action.
This collective agreement is renewed once every two years and affects all plantations workers, such as tea, rubber and coconut plantation workers.
Yesterday’s meeting was between the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon and the CWC, Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre, which are the three signatories to the collective agreement.