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Plantation Industry Opposes Government Wage Increases

The plantation industry yesterday raised vehement objections to the Government’s unilateral decision to increase minimum wages for tea and rubber sector workers by an unprecedented 70%.

Holding a collective media briefing, the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA), Colombo Rubber Traders Association (CRTA), Ceylon Tea Traders Association (CTTA) and tea exporters voiced their concerns about the potential devastating impact on the sector.

They warned that without linking wages to productivity, the industry will face further market losses and declining production quality, ultimately harming the very workers the wage increase aims to benefit.

They also urged the policymakers to prioritise long-term economic stability over short-sighted decisions and to consider the industry’s proposals for a productivity-linked wage model. Planters’ Association of Ceylon said the Government’s decision threatens to cripple every segment of the tea and rubber industry, putting at risk the livelihoods of over 3 million peopledependenton the sectors.

PA Chairman SenakaAlawattegama revealed that the association had proposed two alternatives as a solution, offering an allowance of Rs. 5,000 for 25 days of work, similar to what is offered to public sector workers by the Government and implementing a productivity-linked wage structure.

According to him, minimum daily wage increase they have proposed is Rs. 1,380 with a 50% increase for an over kilo wage hike.

“However, three rounds of discussions with President Ranil Wickremesinghe along with Labour Minister ManushaNanayakkara ended in failure,” he said.

“Despite insisting on the significant challenges due to rising cost of production and to be competitive in the global market, the discussions with the Government failed,”Alawattegama added.(Daily FT)

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