Talks on estate workers’ daily wage:
Digambaram won’t allow his portfolios hinder agreement


Digambaram unveiling a plaque to mark the handing over of newly built houses to estate workers

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Minister Palani Digambaram says he is ready to give up his portfolios to pave the way for a collective agreement between estate management and workers. Digambaram, leader of Workers’ National Front says he wouldn’t mind if his move could facilitate a collective agreement, advantageous to workers.

Digambaram said that he was ready to make a personal sacrifice in case interested parties felt his ministerial portfolio was a hindrance to the proposed collective agreement to be finalized in October this year.

The Workers’ National Front Leader appreciated the position taken by Badulla District UNP MP Vadivel Suresh that he wouldn’t accept anything less than Rs.750 as daily wage for estate workers. However, those who had been in power during the past five decades never took tangible measures to provide reasonable daily wage for estate workers, Digambaram said.

The WNF comprises the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) and the Up-country People’s Front (UPF).

Commenting on special projects undertaken by him after the change of government in January 2015, Digambaram said that ongoing housing project brought relief to the long neglected estate community. Over the last weekend, Digambaram’s ministry handed over 95 newly constructed houses to beneficiaries in four locations in the Nuwara Eliya district.

Pointing out that every house was situated on a seven perch block of land, Digambaram said that the government would provide title deeds to their owners. The minister paid a blowing tribute to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for backing his project meant to uplift the living standards of the estate community. Comparing housing units made available during previous administrations, Digambaram said the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe provided separate housing units to families.

He urged the electorate not to be deceived by political elements bent on taking advantage of them.

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