Planters reject worker’s demand for Rs. 2,500 minimum wage

Thursday, 8 June 2023 00:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Planter’s Association of Ceylon cites economic constraints for inability to increase minimum wage from Rs. 1,000 at present
  • Proposes profit-sharing model as an alternative
  • Trade unionist seek wage increase to meet the cost of living and calls for Wages Board intervention

By Vikey Wignesh

The Planter’s Association of Ceylon yesterday rejected the demand made by plantation-based trade unions for a minimum wage of Rs. 2,500 for workers.

It cited economic constraints for their inability to increase the minimum wage from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,500 as demanded.

The Planter’s Association of Ceylon spokesperson Roshan Rajadurai told the Daily FT that the current challenging economic situation faced by the plantation industry does not make the payment of a daily wage of Rs. 2,500 feasible. 

Rajadurai emphasised that while the association is open to paying higher wages, the income generated by the industry does not allow for such a substantial increase. “This industry cannot sustain itself with daily wages of this magnitude,” he opined.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Badulla district MP and General Secretary of Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union, Vadivel Suresh recently expressed his intention to convene the Wages Board and demand a wage increase to Rs. 2,500 for plantation workers. He argued that this amount is necessary to meet the current cost of living.

But despite demands from politicians and trade unionists, Rajadurai said delivering on the demands is ‘impossible’. He stressed the need for practical and feasible solutions to protect the plantation industry. The Planters Association has previously proposed a profit-sharing model as an alternative. However, trade unions have consistently rejected this proposal.

According to Rajadurai, the profit-sharing module has the potential to allow workers to earn an average of over Rs. 1,500 per day. He highlighted that some hardworking workers already earn monthly salaries of up to Rs. 75,000. He attributed the opposition to the plan to a small minority.

Under the proposed profit-sharing module, the current market conditions could enable payment of Rs. 60-70 per kilogram of tea leaves, accompanied by various benefits for workers. This system would offer substantial earning potential. Rajadurai pointed out that small tea plantations in Sri Lanka currently pay only Rs. 40 per kilogram of tea leaves.