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Look at solutions to address increase in tea production overheads -PA

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The planters Association of Ceylon said that overheads of production of tea have increased and authorities must look at finding solutions for this. Chairman of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) Saneka Alawattegama said that though the costs have increased they have not stopped providing welfare to workers in the Regional Plantation companies (RPC). “RPCs directly employ over 115,000 workers and care for a resident population of 1 million residing within estates. Since 1992 the workforce has reduced from 327,000 in 1992 down to approximately 115,000 to date, and shows no signs of stopping. Workers are also provided maternity benefits which include: three months aid maternity leave, free maternal & child care on the estate itself, allowances for milk powder and many more.

RPCs have also supported the establishment of 61 hospitals 323 dispensaries, 1474 Child Development Centres caring for 250,000 families in 453 estates in 13 districts. He said the plantation sector is one of the key sources of earning foreign exchange and expected to further grow during this year, with a positive support from the government.

Exco member of PA, Roshan Rajadurai, proposed to the government to look at a Revenue Share Salary Model to the plantation workers. From 2000 to 2021 wages have increased from Rs. 115 to Rs. 1,000 which is a 770% increase. “Currently all RPCs are following the Wages Board directive to pay Rs. 1,000 per day.”

“Workers can earn far more than a fixed Rs. 1000 a day if they are ready to move into a new model where workers will have the benefit of flexi-hours, and improved worker mobility where other family members can contribute towards the earning process. A majority of the best harvesters have plucking averages between 30-40kgs, this means that earnings can now be expanded to cover Rs. 60,000 per month.”

In addition 15 mega water supply projects have been established providing safe water and sanitation to 3,000 households, 58,477 existing houses have been re-roofed and repaired, 38,296 new houses built and handed over to workers and 104 child development centres have been constructed. Commenting on the tea yields the PA said that they estimate that yields would reduce by at least 20% in the first year from when the bans came into force, and a further 20% at minimum if the ban was not reversed.

“If Sri Lanka went ahead with a 100% organic policy overnight, yields will plunge, food security will be compromised, and exports of plantation crops will decline exponentially for as long as the ban remains in place.

 

Thursday, February 2, 2023 – 01:00











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