The Government has decided to extend the lease agreements of plantation companies that pay a daily wage of Rs. 1,700 to plantation workers and to cancel the lease agreements of plantation companies that do not pay wages as scheduled.

It has also been decided to gazette the non-estate areas where workers have built line rooms, houses or huts and turned them into settlements.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented this proposal to the Cabinet and when the Cabinet met yesterday (09) under the leadership of the President, approval was given for this, Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said, while addressing estate workers engaged in a protest opposite the Labour Department requesting wage increases.

These plantation workers protested in front of the Labour Department yesterday demanding an increase in their wages and dispersed after the Minister’s statement.

He said that after President Wickremesinghe had previously presented the proposal to the Cabinet to increase the daily wages of plantation workers, the Administrative Council had been convened to discuss the matter, but a solution could not be reached and he mentioned that later he, the Minister, used his powers and issued an announcement in connection with increasing of wages of estate workers.

Accordingly, the order was issued informing the plantation companies to increase the salary of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,350 and pay the remaining Rs. 350 based on the productivity of the plantation workers.

A committee was also appointed on the advice of the President to look into extending the lease agreement of companies that pay increased wages and cancelling the lease agreement of non-paying companies.

Minister Nanayakkara also said that yesterday the Cabinet decided to cancel the lease contracts of the companies that do not pay the due wages to the estate workers.

He said that the committee is looking into how to cancel the contracts and the legal conditions related to it.

At present, legal advice has been obtained in this regard and further work is being carried out.

“These activities will start properly from today. We hope to make a decision that goes beyond the gazette notification that we have finally submitted. Accordingly, we are taking the necessary steps to pay the plantation workers properly. So far, several other estate companies have negotiated with us and agreed to pay these wages. They have agreed to pay the Rs. 1,000 daily wage this month and pay the remaining Rs. 350 in a few weeks and pay the remaining Rs. 350 based on productivity,” the Minister said.

(Daily News)

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