A crisis was said to be brewing in the plantation sector once again with several trade unions, including the National Labour Union (NLU) led by government MP V. Digambaram, dismissing allegations made by the Employers Federation of Ceylon that the workers were failing to meet their daily plucking targets.
Mr. Digambaram also blamed the trade unions who signed the collective agreement recently stating that they have not educated the workers on the production targets they have to meet. He actually charged that these trade unions have informed the workers that there was no agreement with regard to meeting targets when it comes to plucking. He also charged that the said trade unions had failed to educate the workers on the collective agreement. Mr. Digambaram also charged that copies of the collective agreement printed in Tamil had not been given to these Tamil workers so that they could read and understand it.
Mr. Digambaram was responding to a statement made by the Employers Federation of Ceylon that claimed that the estate sector would be in crisis if production and delivery targets were not met.
The JVP led All Ceylon Estate Workers Union (ACEWU), speaking through its Secretary J. M. Premaratne, said that the new increased daily targets had put the workers under pressure as they were forced to pluck 18 to 19kg of tea leaves per day compared to the earlier target of 16 kg per day. He said however that the target varied from estate to estate. Mr. Premaratne said the situation was the same when it came to the rubber estates as the daily targets for those workers had also been increased from 5kg to 10kgs. He pointed out that there was unrest among the workers in some areas as many of them were getting frustrated.
The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) meanwhile said that an issue exists with regard to some estates that come under one particular company. CWC Senior Vice President Hari Chandrasekera said they had already told their members of the production targets and said that it was up to the other trade unions to educate their own members on what was expected of them.