CWC makes offer to end tea crisis

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 March 2001, 11:04 GMT]
The Ceylon Workers Congress leader Arumugan Thondaman said Wednesday following talks Wednesday with Minister for Labour Mr. Alavi Moulana MP that his union might settle for 250 rupees cost of living allowance instead of the 400 demanded by workers in Sri Lanka's tea plantations.

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Tea pluckers on a work slow protest on an estate near Hatton in support of the CWC's Satyagraha demanding a 400 rupee (4.5 dollars) cost of living allowance from management companies. (Photo:TamilNet)
The tea companies have not responded to the CWC offer so far sources said. The Employers Federation of Ceylon pulled cancelled talks with the unions scheduled for Tuesday. The labour minister Employer's Federation general secretary Gothabaya Dissanayaka told the press there was a major break down of law and order in the guise of the Satyagraha campaign of the CWC. Another official of the Federation said that the army should be called in to bring the situation under control and get the estates running again.

apprised the Federation of the development Tuesday afternoon, sources said.

Tea workers demand that the cost of living allowance of 400 rupees per month granted to private sector employees by the Sri Lankan government in December should be given to them as well. The protest in the island's tea estates which began on 19 February has virtually paralysed the industry.

"If the Federation does not agree to this then we will be compelled to reconsider the forms of protest" a CWC official in Hatton told TamilNet.

Meanwhile, sources in the Labour Ministry said that the Federation might demand the government to reschedule their loans from the state banks and to reduce the fees on the estates the tea companies leased from the state when the management of the plantations were privatised in 1993.

Sections of the plantation owners called for sterner action by the government to control militant workers who were blocking estates from sending the produce to Colombo for export, working slow and preventing estate managers from leaving their homes and offices.

 

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