« 150 Years Later: the story of tea » by The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

In 2017, we celebrate 150 years of tea production in Sri Lanka. To mark this anniversary, several events and activities have been planned throughout the year in Sri Lanka and internationally, including a Global Tea Party, International Tea Convention and a charity auction organised by a variety of stakeholders such as the Ceylon Tea Traders Association, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Tourist Board and tea companies.

While there is much reported in the media around these events, the anniversary celebrations and the future of Ceylon tea, there is little to no mention whatsoever of the tea plantation workers without whose contribution the industry would not exist.

There has been a lot of research and advocacy for decades on the rights of tea plantation workers, life conditions, wages and hardships faced by the workers and their families. In comparison to other parts of Sri Lanka, poverty, nutrition, maternal and children’s health statistics of plantation communities are poorer and further exacerbated by issues related to inadequate housing, alcoholism, gender based violence and unemployment especially among youth. Opinion polls conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives show that the community is badly impacted by the economy, have made serious cut backs in the household expenditure and feel little sense of empowerment as citizens of the country.

GroundviewsVikalpa and Maatram have previously created new media stories, in all three languages across their respective platforms, that highlight the hardships faced by the tea plantation workers.

With the objective of creating more visibility and awareness and to ensure that key narratives do not remain invisible during this significant anniversary, CPA’s civic media output over four weeks will be anchored to key issues facing the tea plantation workers to coincide with the 150-year anniversary celebrations in order to take advantage of the momentum gathered by the celebrations. As Sri Lanka strategises the future of the tea industry, it is critical that the official discussions and reflections seriously consider issues faced by the workers who sustain the industry. The output will focus on the change (or lack thereof) in the lives of the workers 150 years since the start the industry, including a plethora of issues faced by them and their families, challenges for the future, areas for reform and strengthening rights. Content will be in all three languages, through short-form video, photography, long-form journalism and other interactive media.

Download this statement here.

source: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

« Film: Determining Futures, women in Trade Unions in Sri Lanka » by Women and Media Collective

Sri Lanka’s Trade Union women leaders are a driving force in the lives of working women due to the constant trials and struggles encountered in the workplace. Marred by gender discrimination and sometimes violence women in the past have had to step forward and speak up for their rights. This led to the emergence of trade unions for women particularly in the Free Trade Zone, Fisheries, Plantation and Healthcare sectors.

The film ‘Determining Futures’ looks at the situation of trade union women from across the country. It takes you through the lives of four Trade Union women leaders and how they work towards making a difference in their lives as well others.

via: http://womenandmedia.org/film-determining-futures-women-in-trade-unions-in-sri-lanka/

« No leave to vote Over 200,000 plantation youth affected » by Mirudhula Thambiah

« Most of the plantation youth, working in various parts of the country, are not allowed to exercise their voting rights at the upcoming Presidential Election, as their employers show reluctance to grant them leave.

Savumia Youth Foundation Chairman, S. P. Anthony Muthu told Ceylon Today that the same problem erupted during past Uva Provincial Council Elections, as many youths working in Colombo and in various other places, were not granted leave thus, they were unable to vote.

He said, more than 200,000 persons from the plantation sector are working in shops and hotels in Colombo, Dambulla, Matara, and in the North and East. They should be given a chance to cast their votes as it is a national election.
« Employers are reluctant to grant leave to these youths as they are unsure of them returning to work. They are suspicious that the youths might extend their leave up to Thai Pongal following the election, » he said.

via: http://www.ceylontoday.lk/51-81571-news-detail-no-leave-to-vote-over-200000-plantation-youth-affected.html