1st September 2023: The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) commended Government and Trade Union representatives for voicing preliminary support for long-overdue reforms to the archaic colonial-era daily attendance-based model in favour of a productivity-boosting modern Revenue Share Model.
While certain stakeholders have advocated limiting workers’ pay to a mere Rs. 1,000, over the years, PA has consistently championed and promoted a model that empowers workers to earn beyond this threshold. “For more than a decade, the PA has steadfastly maintained that the only way for Sri Lankan plantations to achieve operational sustainability is through the abolition of the daily attendance-based model in favour of a revenue share, similar to what has been practiced on tea smallholder estates with enormous success,” PA media spokesperson Dr. Roshan Rajadurai stated.
“While Trade Unions have typically been entrenched in their opposition to such reforms, we are encouraged to see the growing realisation among these stakeholders as to the value of this model for workers. Especially since more RPCs have been exposed to this model of working, they too are pushing Trade Unions to support these reforms to move ahead. We maintain that a revenue share model is the only viable way to ensure the feasibility of Sri Lanka’s tea industry without compromising on our obligation to provide our employees with a sustainable and rewarding livelihood.” Dr. Rajdurai added.
The PA’s statement came following tentative support for wage reforms expressed by a high-ranking official of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress on social media. The official stated that a meeting was held with the President to propose a new revenue-sharing model, which aims to strike a balance between workers’ livelihoods and the sustainability of companies to address wage disparities.
Under the revenue share model, workers stand to benefit from flexible working hours, allowing them greater control over their schedules and improved worker mobility. This flexibility enables other family members to contribute to the earning process, fostering a sense of economic empowerment within plantation communities.
According to PA, empirical evidence demonstrates that harvesters have significantly increased their output from 18 kgs to 24 kgs on estates where productivity-linked wages have been trialled, resulting in earnings surpassing Rs. 65,000. “Several RPCs that have already implemented this system have witnessed remarkable progress, with workers earning two to three times the wage they would have otherwise received. The Revenue Share Model’s flexible working hours have unlocked the potential for increased productivity in previously unharvested areas, addressing labour shortages and boosting overall plantation output,” added Dr. Rajadurai.
PA further emphasized that shifting from the daily wage model to the revenue share model also offers a solution to the escalating migration of labour, exacerbated by recent economic challenges. Currently, the workforce within RPCs has reduced from 300,000 to approximately 100,000. This transition can help reverse the alarming trend of labour migration out of the plantation sector, a critical step if Sri Lanka is to meet its state production targets.
PA is steadfast in its commitment to promoting the revenue share model as a progressive and transformative solution for the plantation sector. PA remains dedicated to ensuring that worker productivity is fairly rewarded, setting the stage for a brighter and more sustainable future for every plantation worker.