Sri Lanka Planters Association says tea industry might survive with new pay model


Sep 15, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Planters Association says that tea industry, which is in a revenue crisis, might have a chance to survive if its new productivity-linked wage model presented to employees is accepted by them.
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“The employers’ ability to pay is a very important and critically fundamental aspect when labour wages are negotiated,” Roshan Rajadurai, chairman of the Planters’ Association said at the annual general meeting held last Friday.
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“The archaic and the century old model of attendance based wages that was suited for a by-gone era must necessarily be changed to a productivity based, opportunity and ability to earn based wage model for the industry, even to have a faint chance of survival.” The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the Planters’ Association (PA) has proposed a Revenue Sharing and a Productivity Based Wage Model to the worker unions in order that the workers who desire so have the opportunity and the ability to earn the desired daily wage. However employers and employees are still locked in talks as employees demand 1,000 rupees daily wage.
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“While we have increased the daily wage of workers 11 fold from 1992 to 2013, this year, we have clearly explained to the representative worker unions, our inability to pay such a high percentage of wage increase purely because of unaffordability and our inability to pay such an increase because commodity prices have crashed to its lowest levels comparatively in our living memory,” Rajadurai said. “We do not see any reason as to why the unions should reject these models as there have been many estates where these models have worked successfully on experimental basis,” he said.
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“The success of more than 400,000 tea smallholder operators which is almost 2 ½ times the RPC worker strength is a good indicator of the effectiveness of this scheme for the 170,000 RPC workforces to emulate.
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” “It is impossible to pay out what you do not earn or what you do not have, whatever pressures are brought upon.” He says the efficacy and the success of the revenue sharing model is evidenced by the fact that within a 20 year period from 1992, the tea smallholder extent under cultivation has doubled from 60,000 hectares to 120,000 hectares along with more than a 250 percent increase in their total crop. “Their quality of life has improved tremendously and this bears testimony that the Revenue Share model is a tried and tested model for plantation operations, for over 50 years,” “We have repeatedly seen the lunatic spectacle seemed periodically bent on dragging the industry towards paralysis, apparently under the misguided impression that the workers who are employed in the industry are separate from the industry itself,” he said. “The workers and their Unions should not adopt a “beggar thy industry” policy.
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  This is a pursuit of a policy contrary to the self-interest of the constituency involved.
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” He says the daily plucking averages  of a tea plantation in Sri Lanka is around 18 kilos of tea leaves, while India’s average is close to 30 kilos and in Kenya around 48 kilos. “Trade Unions must not senselessly oppose every progressive and practical approach that is being proposed to improve productivity,” Rajadurai said.
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"If this attitude persists, I am afraid the dissipation of the industry which has been such a significant landmark in our country will surely hasten.”
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8 years ago

I cannot agree more with the Chairman of the Planters’ss Association with regard to the model proposed as if the workforce and all employed is to survive, first the industry itself has to survive.As a Planter I have come a cross many good workers who are keen that the industry survives but the problem is that there is an equal number who survives on the expense of the good workers as such a produtivity based wage model will give the opportunity for the better workers to earn as per their effort and improve productivity as practiced mostly in the other countries like India and, Kenya.

If the revenue and the profit is shared I see no reason why the unions should appose it and the industry has to stop giving into the pressure tactics exerted by some of the unions once and for all what ever the cost it may be if this great industry is to survive.

Ian Gardner
8 years ago

One way to increase production without cost, but needing intelligent management, is to adopt a short, very short, plucking cycle and selective plucking which the pluckers have to be taught to do. I have described this, as well as how to introduce it and the great reception it was given by the pluckers, in the first Tangakelle chapter of my book which can be found here under the title My Experiences in Tea & Rubber Plantation Management in Ceylon 1952 – 1969.

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