The Hill Country Society Action Group is opposing the purported collective agreement on a pay hike for workers which according to them reduces the wages presently afforded to estate and plantation workers and is a violation of the labour laws of the land.
Speaking on behalf of the Coordinating Committee of the Group, Attorney-at-Law E. Thambiah pointed out that the government is pressurizing the workers to sign the new agreement this week.
The amount they are paid at present is Rs 620 a day and they are guaranteed five days of work during a week. Under the present agreement, they get work for about 300 days in a year. The proposed new agreement offers Rs 730 per day and guarantees only three days of work during a week. Under the proposed new agreement the number of work days will be less.
“The amount they will get if they sign the new one is less than what they are getting now,” he said.
In the government and the private sector there are salary increments. The proposed new collective agreement reduces the wages. This is against the existing labour laws. This will cause serious injustice. This may be a move to dispel the plantation industry. Presently, the collective agreement concerning the pay hike is signed every two years,” he added.
“A condition imposed by the employers in the proposed new agreement is that the agreement would henceforth be signed every three years. Our process of agitation is against the proposed new agreement being signed. We are pressurizing democratically and legitimately. If they sign it and through a gazette notification it comes into operation, we will then democratically challenge it, even legally,” explained Thambiah.