Sri Lanka plantations firms, unions in more wage talks

Sept 09, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan regional plantations companies (RPCs) and labour unions are to hold another round of talks on a wage hike Thursday to resolve differences that have disrupted production and transport of tea, officials said. Obeysekere said workers continued to disrupt work on estates, disrupting supplies of water and electricity, apart from obstructing the movement of made tea. Movement of many teas from upcountry estates remains disrupted, said Lalith Obeysekere, chief executive of two RPCs, Balangoda and Madulsima.

Obeysekere, who is also chairman of the Plantation Services Group of the Employers Federation of Ceylon, which represents the plantations firms in negotiations with unions, told LBO another discussion is set to take place Thursday afternoon.

The RPCs and tea traders have warned that the disruption in the movement of teas from estates could cause shortages at the Colombo auctions.

It could also prompt foreign buyers to buy from elsewhere, they said.

The crisis on the estates arose after the RPCs and unions failed to agree on a wage hike.

The two-year collective wage deal between unions and RPCs expired in March this year.

Labour unions are demanding a daily wage of 500 rupees per w