Sri Lanka tea trade warns labour action will hit exports

Sept 03, 2009 (LBO) – Action by labour unions on Sri Lanka’s tea estates to disrupt the movement of teas could hamper exports and threatens the industry and entire economy, the Colombo Tea Traders™ Association (CTTA) warned.

It would also worsen the current cash-flow problems of plantation companies, the CTTA warned and result in serious difficulties in meeting employee wage commitments.

“Although the RPCs have been endeavouring to be as accommodating as possible, in on-going negotiations, they were taken by complete surprise late yesterday on learning that the trade unions had instigated the labour forces to disrupt the movement of produce from the factories.”

The CTTA accused the labour unions of “being insensitive” to the difficulties faced by RPCs who are only now recovering from last year’s commodity crash that was followed by severe drought earlier this year which reduced the crop.

The association called for government intervention to persuade the labour unions to adopt “a more rational and compromising attitude” in the further negotiations on the wage hike. “The entire industry is under grave threat, which will, in turn, very adversely affect the national economy,” it said in a statement.

“If a