Around 600,000 plantation sector workers are employed in the Rubber Industry contributing 15 per cent to the national economy but although they supporet the main stream economy their rights are ignored, said the All Ceylon Estate Workers Association President, Parliamentarian, Ramalimgam Chandrasekar,told The Island
Even in the past estate workers had struggled hard to get a decent wage increase.They had encountered a number of problems as a kg of flour, what could be described as their staple food and kerosene that helps their dingy line rooms keep shooting up in price.The prices of other food items were also beyond their reach but their expectation for some relief through the 2008 Budget did not materialize.`They have been ignored as if no such sector existed despite the enormous contribution they porovide to the economy of the country`, Chandraseker said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa,as Minister of Finance,had won the confidence of estate workers,because he had said that 2008 budget would contain some relief measures for the estate sector workers.But subsidies expected in food prices, measures to eliminate drug shortages in estate sector hospitals etc did not materialise. This was so even in the previous budgets, Chandraseker said.
The JVP Parliamentarian said that he would ask the government to take positive measures to help improve the living conditions of the estate workers by effecting reasonale wage increase to this downtrodden sector that contributes immensly to the national economy.