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Sri Lanka plantations say survival depends on new work model

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s plantations industry has called for labour unions to accept a proposed revenue sharing, saying losses from prolonged low prices and high production costs cannot be sustained for much longer.

Roshan Rajadurai, chairman of the Planters’ Association which represents listed regional plantations companies, said the current price slump was the longest period of depressed prices for over fifty years.

“The attendance-based model is archaic and needs to change to a productivity-based one,” he told the association’s 161st annual general meeting.

This was essential if the industry is to have even a faint chance of survival, he said.

The RPCs are currently locked in talks with unions who are demanding higher wages and resisting demands to link a pay hike to improved productivity.

Rayadurai said the present crisis must not be allowed to deteriorate and further weaken the industry on which close to a million people depend for their sustenance.

“A revenue-sharing and productivity model has been proposed,” he said.

“It has been successful in selected estates on an experimental basis. The success of 400,000 tea smallholders are good for the 170,000 RPC workforce to emulate.”  (Colombo/September 13 2015)

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