BY Mirudhula Thambiah
Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) Leader and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Opposition MP Mano Ganesan will meet Government representatives this week to discuss the plight of plantation workers and the impact of the current economic crisis on them.
Speaking to The Morning, Ganesan said: “During my speech last week in Parliament, I spoke about plantation workers and the impact of the economic crisis on their day-to-day life. This week, I will meet Government representatives to discuss the issue in detail,” he added.
During his Parliament speech earlier last week, Ganesan stated: “I pray that deaths will not occur in the plantation sector due to food shortages, but if it does, then do not tell us that we did not warn it could happen. We have now informed the authorities regarding the issue – not just us, even the world has given warnings. If the issues of plantation workers are not addressed, we might have to go to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in March. I do not want to go there, but I would like to emphasise that we should not be pushed to seek their help.”
He noted that the current economic crisis is affecting plantation workers in our country. “The plantation sector is affected disproportionately more than others. The impact of the economic crisis on this segment has been predicted, but the situation continues to be precarious as per the findings of four international organisations, the MP said, adding that it had been highlighted in the special report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme (WFP) on Crop and Food Security Assessment in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Food Security Monetary Mission of the UN WFP, the Economic Survey Report of the Sri Lanka Red Cross, and the Report of UN Special Rapporteur of Modern Forms of Slavery Tomoyo Obogata submitted to the UNHRC.”
He also noted that estate sector households record the highest level of food insecurity in the country at 51%, while the urban sector is at 43% and the rural sector is at 34%.
Ganesan also said in his Parliament speech that the Government’s social safety mechanisms do not adequately cover the plantation sector, leaving them at the mercy of private companies.
“This has not worked in the past and will not work now. I propose that the households be paid special attention to as the most vulnerable segment of the Sri Lankan community, and the Government, therefore, seek the support of international development partners, the UN, the Governments of India, the UK, the US, the European Union (EU), Japan, Canada, and Australia in order to implement social safety affirmative action programmes in response to the alarming food insecurity situation of the plantation sector,” he added.