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    Daily Wage of Plantation Workers Increases to Rs.1700 Featured

    May 01, 2024

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced an increase in the daily wage of plantation workers to Rs. 1700. He reiterated his unwavering commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the plantation community, affirming his dedication to safeguarding their rights during his tenure as President.

    These remarks were made during his address at the May day rally of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) held at the Kotagala Public ground this morning (01).

    The President attended the rally at the behest of the CWC, extending his participation in response to their invitation. Upon arrival at the ground, he received a warm welcome from CWC Leader Senthil Thondaman and General Secretary Minister Jeevan Thondaman.

    The May Day Rally and Parade witnessed a significant turnout, with a large number of people participating in the event. Among the attendees, the CWC stood out as the largest trade union and political party representing the plantation community.
    President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s advocacy for the working class resonated strongly with the plantation community, eliciting a robust response from the gathering.

    In his address, President Ranil Wickremesinghe reiterated that “line rooms” would be legally transformed into villages, accompanied by enhancements to their facilities. He emphasized a commitment to improving the educational and vocational opportunities available to children in plantation communities, underscoring the importance of investing in their future development.

    The President also expressed gratitude to the plantation workers for their enduring contributions to the nation’s economy, acknowledging their resilience in overcoming challenges amidst the recent economic downturn.

    Addressing the gathering, the President further said;

    “We’ve all endured a challenging period, particularly those in the plantation community who bore the brunt of the hardships. However, despite the adversities, their contribution to the nation’s economy through tea harvesting has been invaluable. The foreign exchange earned from tea exports in both 2023 and 2024 has significantly bolstered our economy, for which I extend my heartfelt gratitude as the President.

    It’s imperative to acknowledge that the stability we now enjoy in our economy is a result of diligent efforts. None of us wish to revisit the state of our country in 2022; the memories of that trying time are still vivid. Presently, our economy stands on firmer ground, with the rupee exhibiting strength. Our focus now lies on extending relief measures to all those in need.

    We’ve implemented a salary increase of ten thousand rupees for government employees, alongside augmenting the provisions under the ‘Aswesuma’ scheme. Moreover, the private sector has followed suit by raising wages. Additionally, the surge in tourist numbers has led to a noticeable uptick in tourism income.

    Furthermore, we have raise the daily wage of plantation workers to Rs. 1700. We remain committed to addressing the challenges faced by the plantation community. In collaboration with Prime Minister and Minister Jeevan Thondaman, we’ve deliberated on legally designating these ‘line rooms’ as villages. This designation will grant them access to the same facilities enjoyed by rural villages. We are determined to pursue these initiatives.

    Education for the children in plantation community has been a priority for us. We’re actively recruiting teachers specializing in science subjects to enhance their educational opportunities. During my tenure as Prime Minister, I initiated the establishment of laboratory facilities in numerous schools in these areas. Efforts are underway to address the shortage of teachers in some of these schools to ensure their improvement. Additionally, measures have been taken to enhance vocational education within the plantation sector.

    As a government, we have consistently prioritized the welfare of plantation workers. I empathize deeply with their challenges and understand their needs. Therefore, I, as the President, affirm my commitment to safeguarding the rights of plantation workers under my leadership.

    In 1982, at the behest of late Mr. Savumiamoorthy Thondaman, I assumed the responsibility of enhancing estate schools while serving as the Minister of Education. Subsequently, in 1986, when President late J. R. Jayawardena announced the granting of citizenship to stateless individuals, I lent my support to the initiative. In 2003, in collaboration with late Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, citizenship was extended to individuals who possessed Indian citizenship but chose to remain in Sri Lanka rather than relocating to India. I’m pleased to note that these longstanding issues have been resolved.

    Now, the focus is on advancing development in these areas. Consequently, we’re directing efforts towards infrastructure development by augmenting wages. Furthermore, it’s worth emphasizing that the agricultural modernization program is not confined solely to rural areas but extends to the plantation sector as well.”

    Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara,

    “President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was present here at today, announced that the daily wage of plantation workers will be raised to Rs. 1700. This increase comes after a year of concerted efforts and discussions with relevant stakeholders. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the urgency of implementing this wage hike before May 1, prompting prior notifications to estate companies, many months in advance. As these estates are government-owned, failure to provide necessary facilities would compel governmental intervention, ensuring the realization of this salary increment. Furthermore, an additional incentive of Rs. 80 per kilogram of extra tea leaves has been decided upon, the decision that President Wickremasinghe officially announced today following the issuance of a relevant gazette notification.

    Under the leadership of the current President, there is a vision to ensure that all Sri Lankans, irrespective of background, enjoy full rights, including land rights. It’s my privilege to announce that a comprehensive plan, akin to the stabilization achieved in the country within two years, is actively underway to uplift the lives of all citizens under his guidance.”

    Leader of the CWC, Governor of the Eastern Province Senthil Thondaman,

    “The recent wage increase of Rs. 1700 for plantation workers marks a significant victory after a challenging struggle. We extend our gratitude to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara for their swift support in realizing this initiative. Special recognition goes to late Savumiamoorthy Thondaman for his dedicated efforts in advocating for the rights of hill people and other marginalized sections of society through the collective strength of trade unions. We also acknowledge the support received from numerous unions and community organizations throughout the negotiation process and extend our thanks on behalf of the CWC.

    General Secretary of the CWC Minister Jeevan Thondaman,

    “Following the passing of Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, we were unable to hold a May rally amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a profound economic downturn. However, after four years, we are now organizing a significant rally. Over the past four years, we’ve confronted numerous obstacles and endured unwarranted criticisms. Our community has grappled with various hardships, particularly concerning land ownership.

    Under President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership, there is a commitment to address these issues. By the end of this month, it is assured that our community will receive land rights as outlined in the President’s program. Additionally, the pledges made to the estate workers are being honored. We have faith that President Wickremesinghe will ensure the confirmation of all rights for our people.”

    Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress MP M. Rameshwaran, National Organizer A.P. Shakthivel, Vice Presidents Ganapathy Kanagaraj and Anusuya Sivaraja, as well as Plantation Human Development Fund President Bharat Arulsamy, were among the prominent figures in attendance. Additionally, a large contingent of party workers and members also participated in the event.

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