Workers to protest on estates

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The 1000 Movement, a collective of unions and grassroots activists who are keen to have the daily wage of estate workers increased to Rs. 1,000 each will organise a series of protests, on tea estates from February 17.

Chinthaka Rajapakshe, moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), said that they were also trying to forge a broader trade union alliance in support of the workers’ struggle. "We will hold protests on tea estates. A number of progressive trade unions will soon join our struggle."

Rajapakshe added that there had been a number of attempts to sabotage their trade union action.

According to the 2016 collective agreement, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) increased the basic salary of plantation workers to Rs. 500 each. Rs. 60 a day was given as an attendance allowance, Rs. 30 as a price share supplement and Rs. 130 as a productivity allowance. "Now, they have agreed to increase the basic salary to Rs. 700, but they have scrapped the other allowances. The EFC, representing the Plantation Companies and Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union (LJEWU), the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), and the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre (JPTUC,) signed an agreement, late last month, increasing the basic salary of employees to Rs.700. They also claim that the basic salary of plantation workers has been increased by Rs. 200 a day, but this is here eyewash. In fact the daily increase is only Rs 20."

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