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Thondaman vows to quit seat if Rs 1,000 not paid

Leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Arumugam Thondaman vowed to quit his seat in Parliamentary if the Rs 1,000 pay demand by the plantation workers is denied. Addressing the media yesterday (26), the MP said that for the last one and a half years he has been holding discussions on this minimum wage per day matter, however, his efforts have not borne fruit.

“I cannot hold discussions all the time, hence, I have decided that on 30 October, on the death anniversary of my grandfather Savumiamoorthy Thondaman, I will give up my MP post and fight for it by joining the people of the upcountry to further to achieve this.”

He refuted the claim that he had said that he would support the next Budget of the Government as claimed by Minister of Hill Country, New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram.

“I said that if the Rs 1,000 is implemented, then I would support the Budget.”

Meanwhile, Minister Digambaram holding a press conference on 25 October said that if the demand for Rs 1,000 daily pay is not taken seriously, he will have to ‘reconsider’ whether or not to continue to support the current Government. After unexpected pressure was exerted through a massive protest staged in Colombo by the youths from among the plantation workers on 23 October, Tamil politicians and workers unions geared to work on the plantation workers’ pay hike demand. The continuous token strikes held in various estates have irked the Employers' Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the Planters’ Association of Ceylon who rejected the demand. Workers are at the moment entitled for a basic Rs 500 pay a day.

After discussions held on 25 October, the plantation companies agreed to settle for
Rs 600, however, the workers rejected it. The protesters called the Government to take over the plantations if the plantation companies and the unions cannot support the welfare of the workers. A continuous strike, holding black flags is in progress that began two weeks ago. Thousands of plantation workers from several tea estates namely Hatton, Bogawanthalawa, Pussallawa, Galaha, Puppuressa, Deltota, Maskeliya, Talawakele, Matale, and Avissawella, and elsewhere those at the Kotagala Teacher Training College and the Koppay Teacher Training College, took to the streets to protest against the poor wage and lifestyle of the plantation workers.

(Ceylon Today)

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