The Estates Staffs’ Provident Society (ESPS)
The first suggestion to inaugurate a Provident Fund for Estates Staff emanated from the Pussellawa Planters’ Association, and a resolution from that District was brought before the General Committee of the Association in May, 1927. The resolution read as follows:-

“That this Association is in favour of a Provident Fund being started for Estate Subordinate Staff on the same lines as the P.A. Provident Fund and to be administered by the Association to start with.”

After considerable discussion both by the Association and the Ceylon Estates Proprietary Association, it was agreed that as the subscriptions would be small and the cost of administration great, the Association would not be in a position to undertake the task.

No development occured thereafter until May, 1934, when the following resolution from the Estates Staffs’ Association was read at a General Committe meeting :-

“That this Association respectfully begs to point out to the Ceylon Estates Proprietary Association and the Planters’ Association of Ceylon that the time is opportune to find ways and means of starting a Provident Fund or a Pension Scheme for the benefit of the Subordinate Staff on Estates.”

In January, 1935, the Kalutara Planters’ Asscoation forwarded a letter from the local branch of the Estates Staffs’ Association requesting the Planters’ Association to run a Provident Fund for Estates Subordinate Staff. Even at that date it was once again agreed that the Association could not possibly undertake such an enormous task.

After considerable discussion it was agreed that the whole question of a Provident Fund for Estate Subordinate staff be reffered to the Committee of the Ceylon Planters’ Provident Fund for a report on the practicability of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon running the Fund.

The Committe of the Ceylon Planters’ Provident Society came to the conclution that in view of the heavy cost involved and lack of sufficient office accomodation, it was impracticable for the Association to adminster the fund.
Although due to lack of accommodation it was impossible for the Planters’ Association to administer the Fund when the subject was first mooted, the subsequent decision to transfer the secretarial work of the Tea Reseach Institute, which had hitherto been done in the Association’s Offices, to St. Coombs Estate, Talawakelle, from the 31st March, 1936, however, made it possible provided certain structural alterations were agreed upon.

Draft rules prepared by Messrs. A W L Turner and S C Bisset, the Secretary and the Accountant of the Association, were submitted to the Legal Advisers and were approved by the General Committee of the Association on 25th September, 1936.

The Inaugural Meeting of the Society was held on the 11th of July, 1937 at which Mr R P Gaddum (Chairman – Planters’ Association of Ceylon) was appointed Chairman of the Meeting and duly proposed the following resolution.:-

“That the Estates Subordinate Staffs’ Providient Society be and hereby is duly formed and inaugurated.”

Spekaing on the resolution, Mr Gaddum said:-

“It must be a source of gratification, particularly to those members of the Estates Staffs’ Association of Ceylon who had laboured for a number of years towards the realization of that Society to see the proposal presented.

“It will, perhaps, be invidious to pick out any names,”‘ he added, “but during my term of office, both as Chairman of the Pussellawa P.A. and as Chairman of the parent Association, I have been for the last ten years associated in this matter with Mr Solomon de Silva, Mr A S Lebbe and last, but by no means the least, your present Chairman Mr Silas, for whose tremendous interest and spade – work and the way they represented your cause, I think you should feel a deep gratitude.”

Messrs. L B Jayasena and V Sivagnanam were appointed to sign the Deed of Trust in favour of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon which was subsequently executed on 27th September, 1937.

From a slow beginning the Society has developed into a healthy body providing security in retirement for the majority of estate staff for whom no private provident fund facilities existed. The original potential target of membership assessed at 4,000 in 1937, was exceeded five years later.

Today the Society boasts of a membership in excess 6,700 who receive a reasonable dividend annually and also enjoy housing loan, educational loan and life insurance benefits.