The President Kumaratunga has directed Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation Industries Ratnasiri Wickramayake, to intervene and solve the estate crisis immediately.
Minister and Leader of the Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC) Arumugam Thondaman said that the President had accepted the demand of the estate workers for an increase in their salaries by Rs. 400 in view of the increasing cost of living.
The Plantation Trade Unions had earlier demanded the salary hike on the basis that the tea industry was performing very well and that the workers who contributed to the industry should be compensated. The Plantation managements were reluctant to go beyond the provisions in a collective agreement signed with the trade unions. There were fears that the union action may have an adverse impact on Sri Lanka's booming tea prices.
The Minister quoted the President as saying that she could not intervene directly as there was an agreement between the trade unions and the estate companies. Therefore the President would advise the Plantation Industries Minister to resolve the problem in a just manner.
Minister Thondaman said that there were positive responses from the President and the estate companies at the discussions held yesterday. (March 07).
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