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23 Mar 2022

World Socialist Website

Sri Lanka: Workers targeted for resisting imposition of revenue-sharing system, which threatens to reduce earnings

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"Attend Sri Lankan estate workers action committee meeting and demand reinstatement of all victimised workers", 23 March 2022

Plantation Workers’ Action Committees (PWAC) from the Alton, Glenugie and Abbotsleigh estates are holding a joint online meeting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 27 to demand the unconditional reinstatement of all sacked estate workers. A total of 54 workers have been victimised by management and sacked from the Alton, Katukelle and Welioya estates.

The meeting will discuss the escalating assault on workers’ rights, including increased workloads, wage cuts, the so-called revenue-share model, and other measures to drive up productivity.


Plantation workers have long resisted the exploitative revenue-share system, which distributes a plot of land with 1,000 to 1,500 tea bushes to individual workers on a contract basis. Workers and their families are expected to tend the tea bushes, with some inputs provided by the company, and harvest the crop. The leaves are handed over to the company, which deducts its expenses and profit, with the balance given to the worker as his/her income. When fully implemented, workers lose their Employees Provident Fund and other hard-won rights.


Plantation companies started implementing revenue-sharing in full last year, after suppressing a series of struggles by workers at estates in Alton in Up-Cot, Katukelle in Talawakelle and Welioya near Hatton. The Horana Plantation Company (HPC) has begun imposing the system at its estates in Alton, Fairlawn, Gouraville, Stockholm and Mahanilu after a brutal assault on its workers at Alton .

In February 2021, police arrested 24 workers and two youth from the Alton estate on frame up charges of physically assaulting estate managers. The witch hunt was launched after workers went on strike for 47 days to demand higher wages and oppose management harassment. The arrested workers now face a criminal court trial. Using the same bogus charges, HPC then summarily sacked 38 workers, who are now struggling to earn any income. ..

A worker from Fairlawn estate said, “Our rights are being removed by management, following introduction of the revenue-sharing system. The water supply system in our estate has completely collapsed and we have to bear the cost of its repair.”

Katukelle estate is managed by Maskeliya Plantation Company. When workers began taking action against higher workloads last September they were targeted in a series of management and police attacks. Eleven workers were sacked and now face court cases.