Promoting Decent Labour Standards in the Sri Lankan Tea Sector through UTZ certification
“I never thought of I would be able to save a life from my participation at a first-aid workshop. I am quite confident that I will be able to save lives by sharing my knowledge on first-aid”.
Sudarshini, 37, a leading plucker and IMS member from the Nuwara-Eliya Upper division of the Nuwara Eliya estate, was recently abled to use the knowledge she gained in first-aid training. During the April festival season, she visited her sister’s home. While Sudarshini was there, her 3 year old nephew choked after swallowing a safety pin. Immediately, Sudarshini recalled the learning from the First Aid training related to the respiratory system. She turned the child and dislodged the object with back blows and abdominal thrusts.Then she called other relatives and took the child immediately to the nearest hospital for further medical assistance. According to Sudarshani, the doctor stated that by giving the correct method of first-aid, she had saved the life of the child and praised her for taking immediate action. Sudarshini mentioned that previously, until they reach the hospital, workers did not know what to do or how to save the children or fellow workers from airway blocking or any other injuries such as bleeding. Domestic accidents related to airway blocking in children can lead to lifelong disabilities as brain damages and hospitals are often rather far away. Occupational and domestic related accidents such as falls from heights, injuries to limbs, fractures and injuries to respiratory system are common in the tea estate sector. Though there is a great need for skills in first aid to secure lives in the plantation sector, only few workers have received adequate amounts of skills in first aid. Sudarshini expressed that she would like to receive another training to learn more about first-aid and teach other workers about basic first-aid applications.
"I did not know that it is important to check mine and my wife’s ETF & EPF balance sheet which we get at the end of the year. If we would not have find out hers was wrong then maybe she would have never gotten any money.“
During the training on Labor Rights, Mr. M. Ravichandiran, a worker from the Alma Estate learned about labor laws and employment related regulations and practices in Sri Lanka. Following the training, he went home to check his and his wife’s balance sheet as it was advised during the training.
Mr M.Ravichandiran found out that his wife, Mrs V.Nageshwary’s national identity card number was incorrect in the balance sheet. Instead of 756883712V it said 756883712X. They informed their union leader which informed the head office of Mathurata to carry out necessary changes to correct the matter. Three other members Mr Bala Subramanian, Mr. Lalith Somasiri and Mrs Wijaya Luxmi, also found errors in their balance sheets subsequent to the knowledge they gained at the training and have informed the relevant authorities to make the corrections.
“The first-aid training gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and to serve my community by being able to save people’s lives. I want to pass on my knowledge because the more people know how to save a life the better. Maybe one day someone I teach my new skills, can save my daughter’s live!” A. Kalimuthu
A. Kalimuthu, 37, Seaton division from Alma estate, practically applied his knowledge in first-aid recently. While cutting wood for the factory, he saw how a fellow factory worker, N. Kanthi Ruban, 38, accidently cut his hand with the axe. Kalimuthu immediately recalled that first thing to do was apply pressure to the wound which will reduce the bleeding. Since there was no bandage he used a piece of cloth from his dress to applied pressure to the wound like he learned it in the workshop. Then he called other workers and took the injured worker immediately to the nearest hospital, High Forest hospital for further medical assistance. According to Kalimuthu, he commented that earlier until they reach the hospital workers did not know what to do or how to control bleeding. Accidents related to use of axe and machines are common in the tea industry and can lead to livelong disabilities as health posts and hospitals often are rather far away. Though there is a great need for skills in first aid to secure lives in plantation sector, only few workers have received skills in first aid. Katimuthushared that he would like to receive another training to learn more on first-aid and teach other worker about basic first-aid applications.
“I never learnt how to prevent fire at the estate or at home. All I used to do is to pour water without considering what type of fire.” K. Manmathan
Kaliappan Manmathan, 49, was one of the participants who participated in the fire safety workshop at Alma estate. “Before my training, whenever a fire incident occured in the estate factory or in the residential area, we panicked and all we did was pouring water over the fire” he shares. However, after participating in the workshop, he commented that he learnt about preventing fire by putting rough blancket. When a fire broke out in the factory premises about three weeks after his training, Kaliappan rushed to the near by shop and brought a rough bag and used it as a blanket to stop further development of fire inside the factory. This simple and efficient method is now known by all his colleagues as he shared his knowledge. As all families living on the estates cook with open fire, this is a very important method to know and can prevent severe damages and even death. “We all feel much safer now that we know how to react to fire”, he says.
"We never thought the use of abusive language by a Kangani is a harassment until we learnt it at the workshop. Before we thought it is just normal and we have to accept it.“
A. Chandirakala and S. Parameshwary are two tea pluckers from Seaton Division of Alma estate. They participated in the Gender for Workers workshop along with their Kangani (overseer) Andavan. During the workshop Chandirakala and Parameshwary shared that their Kangani used innapropiate, sexist and abusive language to address tea pluckers in the field. With the help of the facilitator, they explained him why this makes them feel uncomfortable and how it makes their daily work more difficult. After participating in the workshop in which they also learnt about gender equality, women’s rights and verbal harassment at workplace many tea pluckers including Chandirakala and Parameshwary observed that the Kangani, Adavan, has stopped using abusive words. They shared with the ISD field coordinators during follow up that they feel the workplace has a more gender friendly environment and they would like to see more improvement in their estate such as having female Kanganis.