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Government continuing efforts to raise Plantation Workers daily wage to Rs 1000

Fifty percent of the man days lost to strikes were from the plantation industry.

ECONOMYNEXT – The government is continuing to pursue efforts to get a deal to pay the country’s estate workers a guaranteed wage of Rs 1,000 per day, Plantations Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said.

He said that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had met with the Planters Association yesterday who had appealed to them to grant the wage hike which the late Arumugam Thondaman had promised.

Pathirana told reporters at the weekly cabinet press briefing today, June 18, that the Planters had promised they would come back with a proposal.

The Rs 1,000 per day wage was one of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s promises in his November election campaign.

In January this year, the President ordered that plantation workers wages to be hiked to 1000 rupees a day from March 01.

That did not take place as the plantations said they had insufficient funds.

Plantations companies and workers signed a collective agreement in February 2019 agreeing to a daily wage of 700 rupees, up from 500 rupees.

The government later said a supplementary 50 rupee a day would be provided with taxpayer money for a year.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided the minimum daily wage of estate workers to be Rs. 1000.00 with effect from 1st March this year,” his office said in a statement.

“It was also decided to take swift measures to develop all areas of the plantation sector including infrastructure facilities.”

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Plantations companies say the 200 rupees a day wage hike would cost about 350-450 million rupees per company for or about 9 billion rupees a year for all companies. (Colombo June 18, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana