MONLAR: Plantation companies will not permit Rs 1,700 daily wage to workers

<p><img src="" alt="Featured Image"></p><p><!-- wp:html --><p><strong><span>By Rathindra Kuruwita</span></strong></p>
<p>President Ranil Wickremesinghe has no intention of increasing the daily wages of estate sector workers and his declaration that wages will be increased to 1,700 rupees will not materialise because of the opposition from the planters, Chintaka Rajapakse the moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) has said.</p>
<p>Rajapakse said it was not the first time that a President had declared a wage increase for estate sector workers.</p>
<p>"A few years ago, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also increased the daily wage to 1,000 rupees. The planters went to Court, the case dragged on and finally the two sides cut a deal. The planters agreed to pay 1,000 rupees a day only if workers fulfilled a number of criteria, which included the kilos of tea leaves plucked, the number of days they come to work, etc."</p>
<p>The MONLAR moderator said this development took place during COVID. Because of the pandemic, fertiliser shortages and economic crisis, the work available at estates reduced and thus most people are still getting paid about 15,000 rupees a month.</p>
<p>"The productivity of these estates are low because plantation companies are not investing on modernising the estates. Most of these tea bushes in the estates are over 45 years old. Technically, each year about five percent of the bushes have to be replanted but the rate is actually about one percent," he said.</p>
<p>In the 1990s, most state-towned tea estates were privatised and it was stated that privatisation would boost productivity and income. However, most of these companies invested the money they made from tea in other sectors.</p>
<p>"There is hardly any investments being plowed into the estates," he said, adding that plantation companies are cleverly manipulating the accounts to show that their profit margins are low.</p>
<p>"A few companies dominate the market, from production to export. When these companies are asked why they can't increase wages, they say the gap between production costs and auction prices are too narrow. However, the difference between the auction price and export price is about 60 percent. And it is an affiliate of the tea estate that exports the tea. So, the money remains in the same company. These companies made record profits in the last few years. They can easily pay 1,700 rupees a day," he said.</p><!-- /wp:html --></p><p>[Category: <a href="" rel="category tag">Uncategorized</a>]</p><p><strong>Tags:</strong> </p>

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