The entire country has been held to ransom and the Unions have once
again triumphed. The employers, by their own admission, have been
compelled to agree to a wage that is unaffordable and will result in the
When the new Collective Agreement came up for negotiation the
composite wage for full attendance stood at Rs.295 per day. The
Companies offered a new wage of a total of Rs. 320 and said nothing more
was affordable. The Unions who had seen this several times in the past
and experienced rapid escalations in this so-called maximum affordable
wage, when the Companies were placed under pressure stuck to their
demand of a minimum wage of Rs.500 per day. It was widely known,
however, that the Unions were really looking for Rs. 410 to Rs.420 per
Negotiations came to a halt. Soon thereafter Teas stopped coming to
Colombo. There were threats of confining Plantation Managers to their
bungalows. The situation on the estates were becoming increasingly
volatile and in the absence of any confidence in the ability and
willingness of the local Police to maintain law and order, some
Companies resorted to the hitherto unprecedented practice of withdrawing
Management staff from the estates.
The affordable maximum wage of Rs.320 per day started creeping up and
in a mighty hurry to come to a solution meetings were held over the
weekend behind closed doors and suddenly a composite wage of Rs.405 per
day became affordable. It is now left to be seen whether the wage of
Rs.405 per day is truly unaffordable of whether the Companies, as in the
past will continue to function, make profits, collect Management fees
and in most cases declare dividends.
The other question that arises is whether a workable solution has
been arrived at. Some Trade Unions are still agitating for more. Even
the package agreed upon contains an element of a production incentive,
the implementation of which is unclear.
What is the guarantee that Management and Unions can work out a
mutually acceptable and beneficial basis of this production incentive,
particularly for work other than plucking, where there are no norms, in
some cases there are tasks and in others not even a task. On the other
hand will this production incentive end up as another wage increase
under another name?
Plantation Managers are a very special breed of people who perform a
demanding job with great acceptance very often under extremely difficult
and stressful conditions. Through their efforts the country earns its
major component of foreign exchange and very often their contribution is
not fully appreciated.
It is a lonely existence and whilst you are the monarch of all you
survey, it is lonely at the top. You have to meet and solve the
day-to-day problems with little or no help from outside. You are a loner
who makes your own decisions.
These same qualities that make you a good Plantation Manager, tends
to make you a misfit outside the Plantation environment. Only a very few
are able to make the change from Plantation to Corporate Management.
Most find it difficult to work with other professionals; Accountants,
Engineers, Lawyers, HR personnel etc.
For this same reason, they are reluctant to bring outside
professional expertise into the wage negotiations. This is now a
specialty and it will be useful if even in the future the Plantation
Company Boards insists that this expertise is brought in. It is a
cardinal principle in wage negotiations that before you start you work
out a figure beyond which you cannot go and if this is not achieved in
negotiations work out an alternative that offers more value than the
current best offer.
In negotiation parlance this is known as the Best Alternative To a
Negotiated Agreement - In the case of the present negotiations what was
this figure, Rs.320 that was initially offered or the Rs.405 that was
Peter Rodrigo - Kandy
While there are unemployed graduates and Advance Level qualified, the
Eastern Province Education Ministry has decided to re-employ the retired
teachers to fill the teacher vacancies in the subject areas of Maths,
Science and English.
This decision of Eastern Province Education Ministry has shattered
the hopes of employment of the unemployed and they are saddened by this
The retired teachers who went on retirement within the past five
years have been re-employed and are paid the salary they drew when they
retired. The re-employment of retired teachers basically questions
rationality of retirement.
For one thing we retire officers at the age of 60 because they are
not physically fit to work further. The other is their retirement will
pave the way for the unemployed to be employed. This re-employment
system achieves neither of the purpose.
Teacher recruitment systems like re-employment, contract basis,
volunteers and political victimization have virtually rendered teacher
recruitment non-competitive and poor quality.
Will the Provincial Education Ministry cancel this system and recruit
teachers through competitive exams in the relevant subject areas?
Governor, the Chief Minister and Eastern Province Education Ministry
officials, please take note.
A.M. Inul Raziya
I have made comments on this topic very often. Our main problem is
how the public dump their garbage any place they prefer as long as it is
not in their premises.
I have seen certain vans stop and unload their garbage to the streets
assuming that it gets cleaned up by some miracle.
First the authority should catch these people who dump their garbage
in these areas illegally, specially on the streets and fine them. The
garbage that not gets collected from the residential areas, CMC should
designate a place preferably with a container so the garbage will be
placed inside and not on the roads/streets.
These containers should be emptied in a timely manner so it won’t
There should be a practical way to dispose this collected garbage.
This has been discussed in Parliament level but nothing has been done to
India won the Compaq Cup deservedly and handsomely after a keenly
contested game which became one-sided as Sri Lanka kept losing wickets.
However one wonders what would have happened if Sangakkara did not get
out the way he did - not a hit wicket but because ‘bat fell on a
There is a possibility that Sri Lanka could have won the match, but
the Indians definitely won the hearts of the millions watching the match
wherever they were.
If Dhoni recalled Sanga to bat it would have been a most magnanimous
gesture - out of this world. Dhoni rated the highest paid cricketer in
the world would have also earned the name of the highest rated cricketer
for his gamesmanship and sportsmanship - a lasting name in the annals of
cricket history. But all these are ‘If’s. It is a pity that in the heat
and excitement of the game at this day and age, such thoughts never seem
to occur, even to sports ‘legends’ - whatever the sport is.
It is only a hope that will we live to see the day when such
selflessness and sportsmanship will not be an uncommon occurrence.
Dr. N. AMARASEKERA - Colombo
Thank you W. Annesley Sumith Fernando (DN Aug. 10) for the glowing
tribute to a remarkable Sri Lankan, Dr. N. M. Perera on his 30th death
With his double doctorates in Economics and Political Science, he
could have so easily gained a professorship in a UK University and lived
the life of Riley.
But, his heart was with his own people in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) battling
under colonial rule. Today we have doctors, lawyers, engineers,
architects etc. taught free in our universities emigrating from our
shores at the first opportunity.
SHAIK ANWAR AHAMATH