It is well known that the Collective Agreement expired on 31st March 2015. There were hollow struggles and showers of statements pledging to secure a daily wage of Rs 1000. The claims warmed up during the season of elections. Arumugm Thondaman promised a daily wage of Rs 1000 if Mahinda Rajapaksa won. Digamparam, without committing himself, challenged Arumugm Thondaman to secure a wage of Rs 1000. At the closing stages of the elections, the Progressive Tamil Alliance pledged that they will secure a wage of Rs 1000.
Had only the question of wage for the plantation workers been resolved in favour of the Employers’ Federation prior to the General Election, the people would have voted in much smaller numbers. That could have had a serious impact in the parliamentary political scene. Knowing this well, the plantation trade union leaders too, in their reactionary diplomatic style which strikes at the belly of the plantation workers, pledged that they will secure the wage after the elections.
As expected, the trade unions and the new government, let down the workers, and now say in a confusing manner that the wage will be Rs 770. This not the real full day’s wage, and is inadequate to meet living expenses. The government’s indifference on the issue that has dragged on since 31st March has proven that the new regime is no different from the old. This attitude has strengthened the hands of the Employers’ Federation.
Working class forces should realize that the unions, like government, are siding with the employers, and we call upon them to reject reactionary trade unions and come forward on a broad basis to struggle for a daily wage of Rs 1000. If the workers struggle for a wage of Rs 1000, they can win it and matters will forever be in favour of the workers.
Matale District Secretary, Hill Country Movement for Social Justice