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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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HNB partners CCC Residences to offer prospective residents rare loan facility – ZiF Investments

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(from Left) CCC Sales Manager – Sevvanthy Bashkaran, CCC AGM Finance – Amila Niranjana, CCC Senior Manager – Tuan Haniffa, CCC Head of Sales – Suranga Peiris, CCC Director Sales – Hirushka Fernando, CCC CEO – Praveen Methil, HNB Deputy General Manager, Retail & SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama and HNB Assistant Manager – Personal Financial Services, Sampath Dodanwela

Sri Lanka’s most customer-friendly bank HNB PLC becomes the first bank to partner with the Colombo City Centre Residences (CCC) to offer prospective residents of the luxury state-of-the-art apartment complex a unique offer, ZiF (Zero Interest and Fees) for the remaining 38 apartments available for occupancy.

The partnership offers customers the unprecedented opportunity to make a down payment as low as 20% up to 50% and have immediate occupancy while enjoying the financial relief of a two-year interest-free period on their mortgage payment. HNB Deputy General Manager, Retail & SME Banking Sanjay Wijemanne, HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama and CCC Management were present at the ceremony held to sign the agreement.

“We are delighted to partner with the CCC to offer our loyal customer base this once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a home of their own, in the heart of Colombo. Given that the demand for apartments is increasing and the markets are set to face and undersupply of apartment stock, we hope prospective residents of the CCC will make use of this opportunity and invest in their dream home,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama said.

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Sampath Bank recognised for its strengths across diverse parameters

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Nanda Fernando, Managing Director of Sampath Bank PLC

Looking back at its performance, Sampath Bank noted with pride that it was able to maintain its strengths across diverse parameters, as evidenced by the variety of local and international awards won.

The Bank was able to improve its ranking on many of the corporate leaderboards it was recognised on. In addition to constantly being recognised for its financial prowess, the bank continued to improve in terms of respect from other corporate peers as well as in its perceived value, two non-financial attributes that are crucial, yet extremely challenging to achieve during ordinary times, much less in times of such adversity.

The bank also saw its asset base cross the Rs. 1 trillion mark in 2020, a feat achieved by very few players in the industry. Sampath Bank achieved this milestone in a record 33 years, becoming the youngest bank in Sri Lanka to do so.

Given the volatile market conditions experienced during the past one and a half years, these achievements are a true testament to the strength and stability of Sampath Bank, its resilience and adaptability and the confidence placed in it by investors and customers alike.

“Right from our inception, we have strived to constantly innovate, transforming the nation’s financial services landscape and delivering greater value to all our stakeholders. Helping us earn the trust of our customers and shareholders, our efforts in this regard have been instrumental in shaping our financial success. They also continue to bring us ever more awards and accolades, both at home and around the world,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director of Sampath Bank PLC. “On behalf of all of us at Sampath Bank, I would like to thank the nation for their love, respect and support, especially during these turbulent times. We look forward to continuing to serve them and add more value to their lives in the years to come.”

Sampath Bank was rated amongst the Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka by the International Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ICCSL), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Daily FT. The Bank is one of only 5 companies to receive an Honorable mention at the annual Most Admired Company Awards for the financial year 2019/20. The coveted award recognises companies, both listed and unlisted, that are a cut above the rest in terms of not just their financial performance but also the value they create for their shareholders, customers, employees and the wider community in general.

The Bank continued to hold its position in the top 10 line up in the 27th edition of the LMD 100, Sri Lanka’s pioneering listed company rankings for the financial year 2019/20. Sampath Bank was placed 5th in profitability and 6th in turnover in the latest edition of the ranking.

According to LMD’s Brands Annual publication for the year 2020, Sampath Bank emerged as the ‘Most Loved Brand’ in the Banking category and was the only bank to feature among the Top 10 ‘Most Loved Brands,’ while it was also ranked 5th in the ‘Most Valuable Consumer Brands’ category, up 2 places from last year. In the list of ‘Most Respected’ Entities in Sri Lanka the bank rose 2 spots to 6th place, while it also moved up one place to 4th on the Business Today Top 30.

In terms of international recognition, Sampath Bank was acknowledged as Sri Lanka’s ‘Best Retail Bank’ and ‘Best Commercial Bank’ for the 7th consecutive year, at the World Finance Banking Awards organized by the UK based World Finance magazine, making it the only Sri Lankan bank to be recognized at this year’s edition and the only bank in the country to have received both these awards every year since 2014. The Banker Magazine also ranked it among the ‘Top 1000 World Banks,’ an adjudication made primarily based on Tier-one capital.

Recognition such as this further underscore Sampath Bank’s strong financials including steady profitability growth and healthy liquidity levels, as well as its steadfast commitment to customer service and innovation, as it looks optimistically towards the future.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank continues to steadily transform itself into a technology-driven financial services provider while upholding our traditions and values.

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Exclusive Intermediate Care Facility now open

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Luxury facilities at Jetwing Beach, Negombo.

Ninewells Hospital has teamed up with Jetwing Hotels to offer an exclusive and innovative service for Covid 19 patients. Under this new partnership, Ninewells Hospital has appropriated the Jetwing Beach Hotel in Negombo as a treatment facility for Covid 19 patients. The entire Jetwing facility has become a dedicated, state-of-the-art care center, with the support and guidance of the Health Ministry.

As a facility dedicated to helping the government deal with the daily uptick of Covid 19 patients, this new facility will serve a variety of functions. It will primarily accommodate patients who have recently tested positive either via PCR or Rapid Antigen Test. The facility has been specially designed to ensure that every patient sent over is given the utmost attention, comfort and care. The duration of their stay will be a minimum 10 days during which period they will be under the supervision of trained and professional medical staff, supported by a team of committed healthcare professionals and nursing staff.

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