Minister Jeevan warns plantation companies

- colombogazette.com

Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development, Jeevan Thondaman, warned that Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) that fail to pay the minimum daily wage of Rs. 1700 will have their lease terminated.

Issuing a statement, the Minister said that the Cabinet of Ministers have mandated Regional Plantation Companies to pay estate workers the minimum daily wage of Rs. 1700, effective immediately. This follows the imposition of Gazette No. 2385/14 issued on April 21, 2024.

”The Government has also decided that RPCs that do not pay the minimum wage will have their leases terminated. The Government is ready to enact new laws, if required, to effect the termination of leases and transfer tea estates to entities who can better manage them,” he said.

Thondaman said that the decision follows the unwillingness of RPCs to participate in negotiations with the Government and trade unions, despite efforts being made.

“This unwillingness can also be seen as a stalling or delay tactic to exploit workers of their labour at a minimal wage. RPCs have also failed to file formal and acceptable proposals within the 15-day time period given to them following the publishing of the initial Gazette notification by the Wages Board on 31 April 2024. They have also consistently failed to provide valid reasons for their low productivity, inability to meet the minimum replanting rate and the abject living and working conditions suffered by their employees,” he said.

Thondaman said there is no reasonable or valid excuse for RPCs to fail to pay the new minimum daily wage.

“This is especially considering that smallholder tea plantations are already paying their workers above the new minimum daily wage of Rs. 1700. As a trade union leader and Minister of the Cabinet, I would also propose that RPCs focus on increasing their productivity and revenues through mechanisation, value addition, diversification and other avenues. Instead, they continue to fail their workers and the country in the process,” he added.

Thondaman also commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe for his leadership in this matter and his dedication to uplift Sri Lanka’s plantation workers and our tea industry.

He also commended Minister Manusha Nanayakkara for his sincerity and commitment to ensure that all estate workers enjoy a decent and fair living wage. (Colombo Gazette)

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