Rs. 3.5 bn in  compensation for workers

* Embilipitiya Paper Mills

By Pabodha Hettige

One hundred and seventy employees of the recently leased out Embilipitiya Paper Corporation, who have been laid off under a voluntary retirement scheme, were compensated yesterday. A sum in excess of Rs. 3.5 billion had been allocated to compensate the aggrieved employees.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State Resource and Enterprise Development Dayasrita Tissera said that the government had to lease out the Corporation to Australia’s Perth Engineering and Maintenance Company due to its inability to allocate enough funds to restructure the corporation and due to the need to bring in new technology and equipments to meet the international standards set for paper manufacture.

He said that from 2003 his ministry had to request the Treasury to release Rs. 4.3 million each month to settle the wages of employees in a non-profit making establishment.

The employees had been compensated under three categories specified in a State circular and EPF, ETF and gratuity payments were separately included in the compensation.

The compensation payments of those who disagreed to the scheme would be kept with the Commissioner of Labour and their grievances would be addressed by a labour tribunal.

The government had agreed to a public - private partnership with Perth Engineering and Maintenance Company and by leasing out the property the government had received a total sum of Rs. 600 million. "Furthermore, the government would charge an annual sum of Rs. 14 million for infrastructure and this amount would be increased every five years," Secretary to the ministry, Willie Gamage said.

The management of the Embilipitiya paper mill would be completely vested in Perth Engineering and Maintenance Company for the next 30 years and a selected number of employees would be recruited for new employment opportunities.

The Australian entity had also agreed with the government to allocate four per cent of the total production revenue for community development, for the betterment of war widows and for few other worthy causes, Gamage said.

The ministry was also planning to compensate employees of few other non-profit making entities under the ministry next year, he said.

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