Proposed estate workers’ wage increase will lead to collapse of the industry

Employers’ Federation of Ceylon sounds warning:

Emphasizing that it is "deeply perturbed" over reports of a proposed wage increase to estate workers, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon said the move runs contrary to the binding collective agreement the Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) have entered into with the two signatory trade unions.

At present, the RPCs and two signatory Unions, the CWC and the LJEWU, are covered and bound by a collective agreement entered into in terms of the law that decided on current wages, which will be effective at least till January 2021, the Employers’ Federation said in a statement.

As such, if the proposed increase were to be mandated on the RPCs, it will be inconsistent with the legal provisions as well as the values of ‘core’ ILO Convention 98 on collective bargaining, it further said.

Financially, it will have a disastrous impact not only on the RPCs but also on the smallholders and eventually lead to the collapse of the industry, the Employers’ Federation warned, while urging the authorities to refrain from going ahead with the implementation of the proposal.

During the presidential election campaign, Gotabaya Rajapaksa gave an assurance to increase the daily wage of estate workers to Rs. 1,000.

In keeping with the pledge, the Cabinet last week approved the wage increase with effect from March 1, 2020.

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