Planters’ Association of Ceylon statement on reported wage increase in the tea and rubber sector

There has been widespread media coverage following an announcement published in Gazette No. 2382/04 on the 30th of April about proposed wage increases for Tea Growing and Manufacturing Trade, and Rubber & Raw Rubber Manufacturing Trade, and subsequent remarks made by the President in a speech he delivered on the 1st of May at Kotagala to commemorate Labour Day, which will be applicable for the Regional Plantation Company workers too.

The Planters Association of Sri Lanka and its members are concerned that the President's remarks may be misunderstood and lead workers and the public to assume that a final decision has been taken in this matter when it has not. The 30th April 2024 Gazette notification states that the Commissioner General of Labour "intends to determine minimum payment in respect of the workers engaged in the Tea Growing and Manufacturing trade.. Objections to the proposed determination will be received until 15th May 2024."

Both notifications make clear provisions for all stakeholders - including Regional Plantation Companies - to make comments or raise objections to the details listed in the Schedule attached to the Gazette notification.

Given the facts stated in the Gazette notification, the implication in media reports that the increased payments will be applicable from 1st May 2024, is inaccurate and misleading. Neither the effective date - on which the new proposed minimum payment will be applicable - nor the quantum of such payment has, as yet, been determined. 

The Planters’ Association of Ceylon can confirm that its membership will be filing objections to these proposals within the time frame stipulated by the Labour Commissioner.

Accordingly, the Planters Association is very concerned that the announcement, remarks by government officials and the tone of media coverage is raising expectations that could lead to disappointment and unrest.

We request that you let your readers, listeners and viewers know the true state of affairs on an urgent basis so that their expectations are grounded in facts and reality.

Released in May 2024