Language Sites
  • UCAN China
  • UCAN India
  • UCAN Indonesia
  • UCAN Vietnam
Plantation workers in a tea estate

Caritas seeks better life for tea workers reporter, Kandy
Sri Lanka

December 15 2010

Caritas Kandy has submitted a proposal to Sri Lankan parliamentarians aimed at improving the lives of tea estate workers.

Politicians and rights activists joined 500 people from local tea estates at a Dec. 12 event to raise awareness of the problems faced by tea industry workers.

"Every Sri Lankan begins the day with a cup of tea. But very few know tea workers shed blood and water all day before retiring to houses built centuries ago," said Father Camilus D. Janz, Caritas Kandy director during the Human Rights Day event.

Tea workers are among the poorest paid workers in the country. Large families face social, economic and psychological problems while many estate children are forced to work as domestic workers in the cities.

"While tasting a cup of a tea let us think for a moment to do some thing good for these poor workers," Father Janz requested.

"They need no sympathy but some help," he added.

Siva Rajendran, senior lecturer at Sri Pada College, described the difficulties faced by tea workers and their families.

"Estate children are not given proper attention by the parents. They can't study properly because of the ’line houses’ they live in," Rajendran explained.

Line houses are a series of linearly attached houses with one or two rooms.

Tea worker Raja Krishnan from Poondalu Oya estate confirmed the difficulties.

"We live in line houses and we have to walk seven miles to go to hospital and school," he said.

"We work six hours a day and we are paid only Rs. 385 (US$3.50) per day. If we make more than 18 kg we are given Rs. 12 for each kg," Krishnan added.

Accepting the Caritas Kandy submission, a local parliamentarian praised the organization for its commmitment to the tea workers.

"This will lead to positive changes," he promised.

Related reports
Tea-estate youths pick up computer skills