Rubber tappers wages head North on boom in market prices

Workers in Sri Lanka’s rubber sector are tapping the benefits of the current price boom as a result of a Price Share Supplement (PSS) introduced in January this year in the wake of an agreement between unions and plantation management companies.

Workers in Sri Lanka’s rubber sector are tapping the benefits of the current price boom as a result of a Price Share Supplement (PSS) introduced in January this year in the wake of an agreement between unions and plantation management companies. According to the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, worker wages in the rubber sector reached an all time high of Rs 160 per worker per day excluding statutory benefits in July this year, demonstrating the benefits of the concept of “gain-sharing” through the PSS.

The PSS is based on the monthly auction average price of RSS 2 Grade Rubber and is payable when the price exceeds the threshold which has been fixed at Rs 85 per kilogram.

In January 2004, the PSS was Rs 8 per worker per day.

It has been increasing steadily due to favourable rubber prices and in July this year, the PSS was Rs 29 per day, the Association said.

This is in addition to the worker’s daily wage of Rs 109 and the attendance incentive of Rs 22 per day. Hence, in July, a rubber worker was able to earn Rs 160 per day excluding EPF, ETF and other benefits.

The PSS has motivated workers to turn up for tapping and the problem of the shortage of tappers is being eased to some extent because of the PSS payment, a spokesman for the Association said.

In addition to these payments, tappers are also paid an incentive for the “over-kilos” brought by them.

This is based on the number of kilograms of rubber they harvest above the “norm” fixed for the area tapped by them.

The Scrap Rubber harvested is also paid for separately, and the PSS-driven earning capacity augurs well for those employed in this category in the rubber industry, the spokesman said.