The workers of Sri Lanka’s tea estates have faced a myriad of challenges for as long as the industry has existed. A century and a half since the first plantations were introduced, these challenges still persist, along with several others that have arisen over time.
Conditions in the estate sector continue almost unchanged, despite post-war development drives coupled with promises from government to uplift their standards of living and work. Exemplifying the administrative neglect of these communities is the fact that many plantation sector workers have never had a permanent contact address to their name.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives, along with several local partner organisations, has worked on projects aimed at bringing dignity to this marginalised community through obtaining addresses for each home.
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August 2017 marks 150 years of tea production in Sri Lanka. To mark this anniversary, there have been several celebratory activities and events planned throughout the year, including a Global Tea Party, International Tea Convention and a charity auction. While there has been much reported in the media around these events, there has been little mention of the tea plantation workers without whose contribution the industry would not exist. With this in mind, Groundviews, Maatram and Vikalpa – the Civic Media network of the Centre for Policy Alternatives – will be creating a series of features aimed at raising awareness around the hardships faced by workers and their families.