The group divided into two went out for the exposure on the first day and visited the houses of the Low Country tea plantation workers. Two sites were selected for the exposures. The living conditions, the labour wage issues, social and educational problems were explained to the groups by the workers during the visit.
Tea industry itself is facing major crisis due to low production, labour issues, increasing competition from other tea producing countries and the demand for coffee both locally and internationally.
Unwilling of the owners of tea estates to pay the stipulated daily wage of one thousand rupees.
The current payment of seven hundred rupees is found to be insufficient for the families of the workers.Housing conditions not being improved for almost a century, found to be very poor.
·Schooling is rendered difficult with the enormous distance and often the unavailability of public transport & higher education in estate schools.
·Despite all these difficulties, a few students have done well in their studies and have moved to schools in the city with a foot hold in the estate as the parents continue to live and work there.
·It was mentioned that the situation of the tea small holders appears to be better compared to that of the company owned estate workers.
·Our involvement in future will have to be in the area of advocacy in matters of daily wage, improved living conditions an d better education facilities for the children.
During the afternoon session Alan Keenan from the international Crisis Group who has had enormous amount of experience in the field of advocacy at the Human Rights Council meetings, explained the strategies to be adopted in the years to come in the context of the efforts by the current government to renegotiate the Geneva resolutions taken at the end of the war.
To thank God for the blessings showered upon Fr. Godfrey Fernando & Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando who completed 50 years in the priestly ministry, a thanksgiving mass was celebrated on the 05th evening.
The next meeting was fixed for 06th to 09th July, 2020 to be held in Kandy