Accordingly, the workers had gathered on the Chilaw-Puttalam main road on October 17 and launched a protest.
There are 160 normal laborers at the Palugagwewa Estate, while the Chilaw Plantation Company holds seven zones. Of them the highest revenue is by the Palugaswewa Estate.
The bonus payments of the Chilaw Plantations is generally done in October, while the highest allowances are paid to the workers of the Palugaswewa Estate as it turns out the highest income.
However, this year, the government had taken a decision to pay all workers the same amount of rs.13,500. Therefore, the Palugaswewa Estate workers claim that their estate makes the highest turnover but workers of other loss making estate workers were also been paid the same bonus.
Puttalam MP Sanath Nishantha had also spoken to the protesting workers and subsequently
called the Chilaw Plantations Chairman Asiri Herath who had said he was agreeable to pay the Palugaswewa estate workers a higher bonus as this estate was making higher profits due to the commitment of these workers.
However, he said that this decision was taken by the government and assured that he would discuss the matter at the meeting with the Directors and ensure justice for these workers.
MP Nishantha Perera urged the workers to get back to work as if they continue their protest the company would suffer losses and the government may then decide to privatize this company.
However, the Sri Lanka Estate Workers Association Organizer R.M.P. Somaratne said that the decision of the company administration should be given to them in writing. Although the Chilaw Plantations administration had agreed to meet with the union leaders on October 18, the workers had decided to continue with the protest.
Pics by Jude Samantha – Puttalam Corr