Sri Lanka plantations wage talks fail, unions say

Sept 08, 2009 (LBO) – Talks between Sri Lanka regional plantations companies (RPCs) and estate labour unions on a wage hike have failed, resulting in uncertainty about production and exports, officials said. The two-year collective wage agreement between the unions and RPCs expired in March.

Labour unions will meet today to decide their future course of action.

In the past, when wage talks failed, labour unions struck work, disrupting production and plucking with the effects being felt for months afterwards as tea bushes recovered.

The talks did not succeed, said O A Ramiah, Secretary General of the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre, one of the unions negotiation with the RPCs which are represented by the Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC).

We could not agree on a figure. The gap was too wide.

EFC and RPC officials were not immediately available for comment but the RPCs and the tea traders had previously warned that the dispute, if not resolved soon, could seriously disrupt production and shipments of the island™s main export commodity.

The Ceylon Tea Traders™ Association had warned that workers on some estates had already prevented movement of trucks taking