October 17, 2015
The recent clamour demanding unprecedented rates of wage increase for plantation workers that is far beyond the
capacity of the industry to pay, will not augur well for the sustenance of the industry, planters’ associations in
the region said.
Referring to the wage agreement of Rs.301 arrived at for the workers in Munnar in Kerala, N Dharmaraj, Chairman United Planters Association of Southern India, said this was unnatural and unworkable, since 60 per cent of the cost of
production in plantation industry was labour cost.
In his address to the 62nd conference of Planters’ Association of Tamil Nadu (PAT) here, Dharmaraj claimed that the agreement was arrived in a suspicious manner and the Kerala government should get to its root to know the reality.
The silence of the Central and State governments on the inter-ministerial committee recommendation for sharing of social costs incurred by plantations has only aggravated the situation, Suresh Menon, PAT Chairman said. The industry was currently plagued by a severe financial crisis, arising out of spiraling cost of production, under recovery of prices, stiff international competition in the export markets and shortage of labour, Menon said.
Stating that uniformity in sales tax would pave way for better price realisation for all segments of the tea sector, he said that Tamil Nadu government should abolish the discriminatory VAT sales tax rate of five per cent on tea sold by corporate tea factories, as against the just one per cent for teas sold by bought-leaf tea factories and INDCOSERVE,
a Government run factory.
The proposal of the Centre to declare practically the entire extent of the Western Ghats as ‘Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) was objectionable, he said.This approach is similar to the one adopted by Kerala, whereby lands on the Western Ghats cultivated with plantation an agricultural crop has been excluded from the purview of ESA. This should be followed in the case of Tamil Nadu also, he said.