RPC’s refuse to budge on wage increase

By Skandha Gunasekara

The Planters’ Association of Ceylon had informed the Minister of Plantation Industries that it would not be possible for Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) to increase the daily wage of a plantation sector worker to Rs. 1,000.

Planters’ Association of Ceylon Chairman Roshan Rajadurai told The Sunday Morning that the association, through the Employers Federation of Ceylon, had informed the Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake, that the RPC’s would not be able to afford a pay hike of Rs. 1,000.

“As it is our proposal to increase the daily wage to Rs. 600 will cost us Rs. 10 billion annually. We cannot go any higher as it is not feasible, especially with Tea prices dropping dramatically in the recent past.”

Two weeks ago the Minister of Plantation Industries held separate meetings with both groups, the RPC’s and the Plantation sector Trade Unions to discuss a solution the wage issue.

At the meeting with the RPC’s the Minister had requested that the RPC’s give increase wages of a plantation worker to Rs. 1,000. The RPCs had responded that they would discuss among themselves and inform the Minister of their decision.

Rajadurai went on to say that they had requested that Unions ensure an increase productivity of workers, but that the Unions had refused to do so.

“If they could increase productivity, then we could increase our profits, which could then mean we can increase wages, but they refuse that so we really can’t do anything more at this point.”

He went on to say that if this issue could not be resolved through the Collective Agreement, then the matter may have to be taken up at a different forum such as the National Wages Board.