Retirement age of 60 – Ceylon Planters Society
By Lalin I. De Silva
In the EU Member States, the most general retirement age is 65 years. Spain, Germany, and France are about to raise their retirement age from 65 to 67 years, while the goal is 68 years in Britain and Ireland. Increasingly, the retirement age is being linked to life expectancy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country with the oldest retirement age is Mexico, where men work until 72.3 years of age on average and women work until they are 68.7 years old. In the UK you can claim State pension when you reach the State pension age. For men and women, this is currently 66. The State pension age is then scheduled to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028.That is planning at the national level.
Good employees are the lifeblood of a growing organisation and can help drive the business forward to meet its goals. Older employees offer many advantages to a growing business. Despite this, however, an alarming 85.3 per cent of people aged between 55-64 report some form of age discrimination in their workplace. This number is staggering, especially bearing in mind the many advantages of age inclusivity in a workforce.Older workers are generally less likely to leave. They are less likely to be on a steep career path and are more likely to be attracted to stay if they are given the flexibility and security that many require. People like dealing with people who know the art of managing and older employees often possess more industry-specific experience. Having more practical wisdom means that older employees are more likely to remain calm and level-headed in troubling times. Plantation cultures need a candidate to qualify for this need. Seniority matters in understanding problems due to accumulated (tried and tested) experiences.
Managing a Plantation requires lots of life experiences as its highly labour intensive & being a resident business. The art and science of managing a residential diverse workforce and making them inclusive in delivering agreed business performances require a high level of matured leadership that comes with the age/experiences. Although we learn of five ’M’s (Men, Machinery, Money, Markets and Methods) in any business the Plantations have an additional dimension which is the Climate. Since agriculture is heavily dependent on climate, maturity in active service matters a lot in making a quality decision. A successful Planter is not only heading a business entity for profits but also set the pace with the workforce and everyone around him who expects him to be a leader and a gentleman.
Sadly, the industry has already lost many such vibrant Planters due to unplanned early retirement prevailed in the past. It was so shocking to note that the decision-maker of the RPC sector, the Planters Association of Ceylon was vehemently opposing extending the retirement age up to 60 of the Planters even though both the staff and workers of the same industry won the demand many years earlier due to their union strength. We quote a circular dated 8 December 1989 issued by late Kolitha Rathnayake wherein the retirement age of a Planter had been extended to 60 years and some of the RPCs such as Elkaduwa, Finlay, RPK, Chilaw, Kurunegala, Bogawantalawa (and Lalans), Watewela and Elpitiya Plantations did allow the Planters to continue in service till 60 years of age. The deciding criteria are performances and not the age.
The business performances of almost all these RPCs are streets ahead against the rest. The reason is that the Planters got to have tried and tested life/work experiences to make sound decisions as to the scope of the variables they consider prior decision making is nowhere near any other sector. Poor quality of decision making (as is pointed out through print media in the past) of the majority members of the Planters Association has affected their overall business performances.
Many political leaders starting from Mahinda Samarasinghe, Karu Jayasuriya, Basil Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Navin Dissanayake have done their best in attempting to prevent the daylight discrimination against the Planters but the Planters Association was a strong deterrent force against the extension of retirement age based on sinister reasons best known to them. So, we take this opportunity to thank Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Plantations, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Members of the Parliament for this gigantic historic decision taken under the leadership of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The decision of the Government to extend retirement to 60 will have a positive impact on the industry through the experienced Planters of the industry.
If the country is aiming at being a manufacture and agriculture economy, even the Ex-Planters, like in the case of Ex-Service personnel must be called back for active services to serve in many agricultural assignments. Their passion and dedication to uplift the agriculture remain intact to date. For that, the Planters never die.
We also take this opportunity to thank all past Presidents of the Ceylon Planters Society such as Lt. Col. Suresh Nawarathnam, Lt. Col. Ajantha Moonamale, Rushantha Perera and the Exco, current President Dayal Kumarage, Malcolm Dias for their unstoppable efforts. Álso we take the opportunity to convey our appreciation to Attorney Kanchana Ratwatte and Attorney Kumarawickrama for their legal assistances against this brutal violation of ‘discrimination of law’ objectively committed against the working Planter.
The Ceylon Planters Society has been a serious advocator that the Plantations industry can generate10 billion USD revenue per annum in a country like Sri Lanka with a 90 billion USD annual budget. We are there to assist the development initiatives of the Government.
Plantations make their margins by investing in the land they manage. Plantations agriculture is long-term and operates on the concept of economies of scale. Plantations are the only contiguous land base that can be used for large scale agricultural businesses supported with its resident workforce and other logistics inbuilt. The Government must bring in the right policies based on data and must be clever to understand the gaps. State interventions are needed making RPC sector generating more than Rs 500,000 profit per hectare per annum to start with. Any decision taken based on uninvestigated but on the foul cry of the NGOs could be disastrous that could affect the national economy negatively. The Agricultural Economists employed by the industry must be heard loudly before crash landing without any early warning signals. The NPV, IRR values of the chart appended below are self-explanatory.
The Ceylon Planters Society congratulates the President, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet of Ministers and all the MPs for taking a historic decision that no other Government could take ever before. We the Ceylon Planters Society assure our continuous support for calculated decisions to be the best plantations of the world in terms of quantity, quality, cost and delivery (Q,Q,C,D). The corporate sector of the industry will guide the industry by adding value and bringing in SMART practices to combine the products, technology & markets. The Government should support and regulate the industry to go for high-value employment and all these are not rocket sciences if cause and effect concept is properly understood.
The Ceylon Planters Society also thank Ajith Nivard Cabral for giving a patient hearing on the burning issues faced by the working Planter always
Lalin I. De Silva was a former Senior Planter and Agricultural Advisor