Windfall at tea auction, but Rs 1000 daily wage for workers forgotten

By Rathindra Kuruwita 

Plantation companies were making record profits, at the tea auction, but plantation workers had not received the promised wage hike, Chinthaka Rajapakshe of the 1000 Movement, a collective of unions and civil society activists, told The Island yesterday.

Rajapakshe said that some plantation companies had recommenced work without adhering to any of the guidelines given by the Health Ministry.

"The people worked,without any safety equipment. Thanks to their labour, the plantation companies are earning huge profits. Given that these companies also operate the firms that export the tea; the profits of the plantation companies should be much higher. Thus, there is no reason why they can’t pay a Rs. 1000 daily wage."

Despite plantation companies making high profits, the government had conveniently forgotten the promise made by the President to increase the daily wage of the workers to Rs 1000, Rajapakshe said.

"Many estate workers didn’t even get the Rs. 5000 promised by the government to help the poor during lockdowns. This is because, many Grama Niladaris thought they were ineligible as the plantation companies had recommenced operations. These are among the poorest people in the country; they too deserved that RS. 5000."

A large number of estate sector youth employed in the tourism industry, especially in Negombo and Mount Lavinia, had returned home empty-handed, Rajapakshe said. "This has increased unemployment on estates."

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