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RPCs put the ball in trade unions’court

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Rs. 1,000 minimum daily wage demand

During a meeting last Friday between Minster of Labour Nimal Siripala de Silva and Chairmen of all Sri Lankan Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), a final proposal was submitted towards ensuring a ‘sustainable’ earnings model for tea estate workers, making it the trade unions’ responsibility to take the next action on the long-standing pain point of the industry.

This proposal takes into consideration the sustainability of both the industry and livelihoods of plantation workers, RPCs said.

“After a very productive meeting with the minister, RPCs have arrived at a final consensus on what we can sustainably offer, while providing the highest possible earnings potential for our workers. Our final offer amounts to a 30% increase in earnings on the fixed model, and there is no upper limit to what workers can earn under the productivity-linked components. This is the first step to modernising our entire industry, and moving beyond a basic daily wage system which is a relic of the colonial era and long overdue for an update,” they said.

“We have gone well beyond the Rs. 1,000 daily wage demand of Trade Unions, and this follows a 40% increase from just two years ago. At a time when others in the apparel and leisure sector are slashing wages and retrenching workers, ours is one of the precious few export industries which has shielded our employees from the negative impacts of the pandemic, and is actively pursuing a wage increase. This is no easy feat, and without improvements in productivity, it will still be extremely difficult for any RPC to remain financially sustainable. There is clear understanding from the government on our position, and it is now up to Trade Unions to make the right decision,” Chairman, Plantation Services Group, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon said.

Under the final proposal, RPCs are offering a fixed daily wage of Rs. 1,105, with the re-introduction of attendance and productivity incentives – a feature which Trade Unions had strongly and consistently opposed in the past, but have since reversed their position in the most recent negotiations.

The breakdown is as follows: Basic Wage – Rs. 700, EPF/ETF – Rs. 105, Attendance Incentive – Rs. 150 and Productivity Incentive – Rs. 150. Under the new proposal, workers will receive a substantial Rs. 6,250 increase to their monthly earnings.

Further to the revised daily wage model, RPCs also propose the implementation of productivity-linked earning components to ensure that workers are finally provided effective incentives and are rewarded for increasing their productivity.

The proposed fixed daily wage model will be implemented 3 days a week, and on the remaining days, RPCs have called for one of two productivity-based models to be implemented based on how suitable they would be to each RPC’s unique capacity – enabling workers to earn far more than the fixed Rs. 1,105.

Under the productivity-linked component, employees can earn Rs. 50 (inclusive of EPF/ETF) for every kilo of tea leaf plucked. In the case of Rubber, this would amount to Rs. 125 (inclusive of EPF/ETF) for every kilo of rubber latex.

Alternatively, employees will be remunerated based on a revenue share model, offering greater earnings, similar to what has long been practiced with success in the smallholder sector in Sri Lanka. Companies who do not wish to continue with either of these models, will reserve the right (at their sole discretion), to continue with the standard daily wage system.

Currently, the Cost of Production (COP) of tea amounts to Rs. 615 a day, higher than any other tea producing nation in the world. Out of this, cost of labour accounts for 63% of the total cost of production. With the proposed increase in daily earnings to Rs. 1,105, the COP will increase up to Rs. 730 a day. Unfortunately, increasing cost of production is expected to be met with stagnant prices in local and international markets, further annihilating the economic viability of the industry.

Previously, the auction price of RPC tea reached an all-time high of Rs. 601 per kg on average (USD 3.99) in 2017 and has since plunged to Rs. 581/kg (USD 3.16). However, Sri Lanka’s global market price for tea has become increasingly uncompetitive, especially in comparison to USD 1.94 for tea at the Mombasa auction in Kenya. Competitors like Kenya have seen a significant increase – as much as 50% – in crop output which has resulted in an oversupply in the global tea market, forcing the market price of tea to reduce further.



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Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan owned company to receive FAMI-QS certification

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Farmchemie has obtained FAMI-QS certification being the first Sri Lankan owned company certified with FAMI-QS. FAMI-QS stands for Feed Additive and pre-MIxture Quality System, which compromises the safety of animal feed and the quality of processed goods in accordance with European regulation no. 183/2005 on animal feed. Farmchemie is a BOI approved leading manufacturer and exporter of animal feed additives and nutritional supplements in Asia. Farmchemie is equipped with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility from Bühler, Switzerland to offer quality assured manufacturing services for world-renowned European brands as well as own brands under Farmstar. Farmchemie has already established their presence in numerous international markets such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kuwait, Lebanon, UAE, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Uganda. FAMI-QS will enable them to expand their markets including the European and USA.

“We are honoured to announce that Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan-owned company to be certified with FAMI-QS in combination with ISO 9001: 2015 and Good Manufacturing Practices certification for animal feeding. By attaining FAMI-QS, we are able to anticipate the expectations of our clients for safe, high-quality goods by lowering the related risk and enhancing the quality of onsite feeds via a supply chain that is properly guaranteed. For that Farmchemie implements measures for Feed Fraud and Feed Defense according to FAMI-QS supply chain integrity module V2. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our customers and suppliers for their continued support and dedication. We look forward to elevating the firm to new heights in the coming months and years, as our aims will always be centered on quality assurance and innovative manufacturing.” Managing Director Uditha Wanigasinghe stated.

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Exports Gold Award for Textrip

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Textrip Pvt Ltd, the export arm of the Elasto Group, was recently recognized, as the gold award winner for rubber and rubber-based products, medium scale category at the NCE Export Awards ceremony held recently in Colombo. The Chairman and Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera accepted the award at the gala event held at Shangri La Hotel. The national export awards ceremony, organized by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), recognizes and rewards Sri Lankan exporters on their performance in the international market.

“We always strive to manufacture high-quality rubber-based goods, using the latest technology, adhering to the highest international standards, and showcasing Sri Lanka on the global stage. I would like to thank our clients, locally and internationally for their continuous trust and my staff for their hard work and dedication. They are the pillars of our success,” Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera stated. Textrip products have obtained a number of national and international quality standards such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, CET, REACH and their products are designed to adhere to the ‘Wellness Wisdom’ theme. The company works with over 100 top sports and wellness brands and exports to more than 30 countries including European countries and the United States. TEXSTRETCH Progressive Exercise Resistance Bands is one of the most popular products of the company. The product is a great full-body workout solution for users of any level.

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Sri Lanka Tourism returns to Spanish market after pandemic

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Spain is one of the fastest recovery markets for Sri Lanka Tourism after the pandemic and participation in FITUR argues well for the much-needed exposure for Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination for Spanish-speaking countries, contributing in a substantive manner to its overall growth strategy. Sri Lanka Tourism made the presence with the 28 private sector companies at 43rd edition of FITUR International Travel Mart which was held from 18- 22 January 2023, Madrid, Spain. FITUR is the largest tourism event in the Spanish Market where all the sectors leisure, business and MICE tourism meet under one roof.

Sri Lanka Tourism stall was ceremonially opened by Mr.Chalaka Gajabahu ,Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Barcelona, Mr. Agustin Llana and representatives of the leading private sector members of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was able to attract high level of attention from the trade and travel visitors attended at the event. The Sri Lanka pavilion highlighted many aspects of its potential culture, beauty, Ayurveda and many more which Sri Lanka would offer as a tourism destination. Sri Lanka stand optimized the “So Sri Lanka” and “Visit Sri Lanka” vivid sights to attract the potential visitor segments. At the Sri Lanka pavilion, Ceylon tea was served for the visitors with a view of promoting Ceylon tea in the Spanish market.

On the sideline of the FITUR travel fair, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Burau officials participated at the events organized by the UNWTO. During the events, SLTPB officials met with the Mr.Harry Hwang , Director of Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO.As a result of discussions, Mr.Harry Hwang has shown the interest to hold the UNWTO Joint commission in Sri Lanka in 2024.

Meantime, the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Embassy of France also took steps to arrange Business Meetings, exclusive media interviews, Air Line meetings at the FITUR 2023. The Media gathering conducted during the fair created the great opportunity to highlight the updates on the destination and create awareness on the destination.

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