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Last updated: 13 September, 2009 - Published 15:35 GMT
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Plantation unrest following pay deal
A tea estate in Sri Lanka
Many trade unions oppose the 'unofficial' settlement agreed with some unions and the employers

Clashes erupted in the up country after sections of the plantation trade unions agreed to a pay deal offered by employers.

Police used tear gas to disperse a demonstration led by Up Country Peoples Front Leader (UPF) and Social Development Minister P Chandrasekaran in Hatton protesting an agreement between Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and the Plantation Employers Association.

The protesters were marching towards a gathering led by the CWC.

In a separate incident at least five people were injured in a clash with CWC supporters in Bogawanthalawa.

More clashes

The protest was jointly organised by the Western Peoples Front led by Mano Ganeshan MP and Ceylon National Estate Workers Union (CNEWU).

Clashes in the upcountry (photo: Ranjith Rajapaksa)
Police used tear gas to disperse a demonstration led by UPF leader, Minister P Chandrasekaran

While Minister Chandrasekaran opposed the offer by employers, the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) led by Minister of Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development, Arumugam Thondaman said on Sunday that it has agreed to a daily wage of SL Rupees 405.

The plantation workers have been protesting demanding a Rs. 500 a day wages. The workers are currently paid Rs. 290 a day.

Ceylon National Estate Workers Union (CNEWU) also joined the discussion CWC national organiser R Yogarajan told BBC Sandeshaya.

The employers also agreed to pay the increased wage from April this year, he said.

'Linked to production'

Damitha Perera, president of Planters' Association, said the employers agreed to increase the wages to Rs. 405 per day.

 We were not invited for that unofficial discussion and we do not agree with the outcome
Union leader OA Ramiah

He added that the payment, however, would be linked to daily production.

But many other unions said they did not agree for such a deal.

OA Ramaiyah, of Joint Plantation Trade Union Federation (JPTUF), told BBC Sandeshaya that there was no official meeting between the trade unions and the employers on Saturday.

"We were not invited for that unofficial discussion and we do not agree with the outcome," he said.

The collective agreement between plantation unions and the employers ended in March.

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