Promoting Decent Work in the Tea Plantation Sector in Sri Lanka- Project Briefing Meeting

ILO Colombo has introduced its new project “Promoting Decent Work in Tea Plantation Sector –Sri Lanka” to its tripartite constituents at a project briefing meeting held on 26th Oct 2016 at Renuka City Hotel Colombo.

Press release | 31 October 2016
Left to right: Mr. K. Marimuttu, Senior Vice President, Ceylon Workers Congress; Mr. Prasad De Silva – Assistant Director General/Head of Plantation Services,The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon; Mr. Gotabaya Jayaratne, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations; and Ms. Indra Tudawe, Senior Programme Officer, ILO Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives
ILO Colombo has introduced its new project “Promoting Decent Work in Tea Plantation Sector –Sri Lanka” to its tripartite constituents at a project briefing meeting held on 26th Oct 2016 at Renuka City Hotel Colombo. Senior officials from Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon,Trade Unions, Ministry of Plantation Industries, Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs), and social organisations attended to this meeting.

Ms. Indra Tudawe Senior Programme Officer of ILO in her opening remarks has mentioned that though plantation sector largely contributes to Sri Lanka’s economic development, the sector faces acute challenges, which were identified by the ILO’s research conducted in December, 2015. The research revealed that the plantation sector typically faces (1) poverty among plantation workers and families; (2) lack of training opportunities for out-of-school youth; (3) high population of no/low-skilled youth and their tendencies to seek employment outside of plantation sector; (4) limited consolidation for collective bargaining in the sector despite presence of unions; (5) low productivity among workers and poor maintenance of occupational safety and health; (6) limited employment opportunities in plantation sector and increase in rates of out-migration; and (7) environmental degradation. Ms. Tudawe further mentioned that the project is intended to address these identified issues while following the decent work agenda.

Mr.Gotabaya Jayaratne, Secretary Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations in his speech emphasised that tea plantation sector accounts 10% of the agriculture labour force in the country. However it has faced unique challenges and decent work deficits. The secretary has requested in this project ILO and the stakeholders to work together to identify areas of priority, and design feasible strategies, to address the issues that are yet to be tackled. Furthermore he said the best practices of the project need to be replicated in order to strengthen the decent work agenda.

A brief overview of the project was provided by Ms. Tharanga Gunasinghe –National Project Coordinator of ILO. She has explained the five major components of the project and planned activities to the participants. The five major components of the project are 1) Skills, Productivity and Working Conditions 2) Social Dialogue 3) Occupational Safety and Health 4) International Labour Standards 5) Labour Inspection System Application. After the presentation the participants were engaged in a discussion that has provided insights to implement the project. A core group of ten members were appointed by the participants to assist the implementation of the project. On behalf of the tripartite constituents, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) have pledge that they will continue to assist the implementation of the project together with relevant partners. ILO has requested all the participants to send their further feedback on project with in next two weeks.