Tamil Diplomat

International Women’s day programme in Bandarawela

International Women’s Day will be held in Bandarawela town on the 8th March 2915.

Events on the day will focus on creating awareness on the following issues through seminars, advocacy, pamphlets, posters, banners etc.

  • Pay equal wage for equal work
  • Reduce the working hours (Men work not more than 6 hours)
  • Create facilities within the estate such as sanitation & drinking water
  • Mothers find very difficult to feed their babies since the time allocated for this is not sufficient.
  • Babies are not looked after by the attendant in child development centres. Irregularities must be changed.
  • For extra kilos of tea the management pays Rs.20 but according to the norm under the Wage Agreement calculation they pay Rs.33 per kilo. This also should be changed.
  • On Poya Day, Sundays and the 4 paid holidays they are paid 1 ½ day wage without EPF/ETF but the norm for these days increased from 18 kilos to 25 kilos. Therefore it is not 1 2/2 day wage. This has to be stopped.
  • Now the Government is willing to give land to the plantation sector. Only a proposal. Up to now there are about
  • 30 000 families living in individual houses. Though they settled the loan with interest the deeds were not given. Land deed should be written in the names of husband and wife.
  • The women at home, at the work place and in the society (religious, trade unions & politics) are treated as second class citizens.
  • Women are the people who bring more income look after the families and over burden by all these activities.
  • Most of the women are suffering from hidden hunger. In Sri Lanka life expectancy of women are 75  years. But in the plantation women’s life expectancy is less than 60 years because of less rest and lack of nutritious food. Therefore they have less resistant power over the diseases.
  • When the peak season they have to work even on holidays. This continues at a stretch for 6 months without rest. This is taking place only in Sri Lanka.

In the Plantation sector the gender equality is violated because the plantation structure that was introduced by the British is a male dominated  and hierarchical structure. Even though the ownership of the plantation industry has been changed, the plantation owners and the management enjoy all the latest facilities and living a luxury life. Out of 225,000 workers 65% are women. Their life style has not changed. They have been treated as unskilled workers from birth to death. This structure must be changed in the 21st century to bring about gender equality.

ILO passed a Convention in 1970s equal wage for equal work. Sri Lanka, in 1984, made equal wage for men and women. But the women have to work for 10- to 12 hours in a difficult terrine such as slope hills, carrying baskets on their heads in all type of weather condition and to get the full pay for the day. They have to pluck number of kilos per day that has been fixed by the management. Otherwise they will not get the full pay. They weigh the tea leaves thrice a day and two kilos are deducted every time they weigh and this substitute for non tea plucking worker involving in weighing, supervising and transporting. All these are men. So the women work for these men also.