|Storm brewing over
controversial estate agreement
unions are sharply divided over the recently signed collective
agreement with the Employers’ Federation, seeking a wage hike
for the plantation workers.
The Employers’ Federation signed the collective agreement with
the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and Lanka Jathika Estate
Workers Union (LJEWU) on October 10.
According to the agreement, the plantation management companies
managing the estates agreed to increase the daily wage of the
workers by an additional Rs. 30.
However, the agreement clipped the wings of all the trade unions
by including a clause preventing the unions from asking for any
more wage increase or other benefits for two more years.
Since the CWC was satisfied with the agreement, they signed the
document and accepted portfolios.
Nevertheless, Upcountry Peoples Front (UPF) led by Minister of
Community Development and Social Inequity Eradication P.
Chandrasekaran, Western Peoples’ Front (WPF) led by
parliamentarian Mano Ganesan, Ceylon Workers Alliance (CWA) led
by S. Sathasivam and National Workers Union led by T. Digambaram
have, in unison, protested against this agreement.
The four parties will consider action against this in due
course, a spokesman said.
Meanwhile Minister Chandrasekaran told The Nation that he was
shocked to hear that the CWC and LJEWU signed this piece of
document for their own political mileage, without considering
the plight of the workers.
He said the agreement had tied the hands of the trade unions by
preventing them from making any demands aimed at safeguarding
the welfare of the workers for two more years.
He added that, in the plantation industry, this was the ‘worst’
ever agreement signed between the federation and the trade
unions in history.