Massive protest by estate workers

By Nimal Gunathilake, Matale Corr  

A massive protest was staged yesterday in Matale town by estate workers demanding that they be provided with basic facilities.

The protest had been organised by the Upcountry People’s Movement for Social Justice.

Several thousand demonstrators complained that the estate people had not been given their right to a decent life since the days of British governance. Around 250,000 families in the estate sector were forced to live under many hardships. Successive governments had ignored their plight, the protesters said.

Protesters marched along the streets of Matale town carrying placards and demanding that the government provide estate workers a 20-perch plot of land each to construct separate houses, provide jobs for their children in keeping with their educational qualification.

National Organiser of the New Democratic Marxist-Leninist Party, V. Mahendran told media during the protest: "There has been no change in the way estate workers are being treated since colonial days. Our people’s rights are suppressed and they treated like slaves. What we demand is to ensure our basic human rights. There are over 250,000 families in the estate sector. Children of most of these families have secured educational qualifications, but they are discriminated against in the job market owing to their family background. We demand that this oppression be ended and our rights granted immediately."

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