Sri Lankan govt intervenes in estate worker pay hike deadlock

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Cabinet has asked the finance ministry to find a solution to estate worker demands for higher pay without overly burdening the economy, a government spokesperson said.

"I have asked Ministers Arumugam Thondaman (Minister ofHill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development) and Suresh Vadivel (State Minister of Plantation Industries) to submit proposals to S. R.Attygalle (Treasury Secretary)," Cabinet spokesperson Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

"We want to find a solution which will support the estate workers without overly burdening the economy," he said.

Estate workers are requesting their basic daily wage be increased to 1,000 rupees.

Workers now get a basic pay of 500 rupees along with incentive payments amounting to a total daily wage of 805 rupees.

Regional plantations companies (RPCs), which are now in a deadlock with trade unions over the pay hike, are proposing the industry shift entirely to a productivity-based wage model as the only way to meet union demands to double daily basic pay to 1,000 rupees.

The RPCs would ideally like to move towards an out grower model.

During the 2017 wage negotiations, the unions had rejected a fully productivity-based wage model in favour of a semi-productivity-based arrangement. (Colombo/Nov07/2018)

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