Sri Lanka tea estate wage talks deadlocked

Sept 11, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan plantations companies and labour unions failed to agree on a wage hike at talks Thursday and are set to resume negotiations Friday morning, officials said. S Ramanathan of the Joint Plantations Trade Union Centre, one of the three main unions negotiating with employers, said both sides remained far apart on the quantum of the wage hike.

Plantations company officials were unavailable for comment.

Labour unions are demanding a daily wage of 500 rupees for a worker, which the companies say they cannot afford.

Unions are also blocking the movement of made tea from hill country estates to back their demands for more pay, raising fears of shortages at future Colombo auctions.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka main opposition United National Party has also started fishing in troubled waters calling for government intervention in talks.

Sri Lankan workers demand large wage hikes as high rupee inflation created by the government robs them of the purchasing power of their salaries.

Though inflation has come down the government has started taxing basic foodstuffs at very high levels and blocking imports which has prevented prices, especially carbohydra