Sri Lanka tea exporter calls for better labour relations

Aug 23, 2011 (LBO) – A top Sri Lankan tea exporter has suggested more cordial relations between plantations companies and labour unions could reduce “confrontational” approaches to wage negotiations.

Fernando said that he believed the conflict with trade unions is largely due to lack of an ongoing dialogue between plantation owners and trade unions.

“If a cordial environment prevails between the two parties, wage negotiations may become cordial and understanding – not a confrontation,” Fernando told shareholders in the firm’s annual report.

“A better appreciation of each others™ difficulties and problems could make talks friendly.

Fernando said trade unions function “reasonably well” under good, “responsible” employers.

He said he believe that, if senior staff at regional plantation companies are given greater authority by their owners, and owners themselves, show active interest in issues with trade unions, there could be a more “favourable environment”. Merrill J Fernando, chairman of Ceylon Tea Services, which exports under the Dilmah brand, said there was an urgent need for government and industry to work together to make the tea industry viable.

The island’s