Who: Maha Oya Group, Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union
Where: Sri Lanka
Sector: Plantation farming
What: company policy, employee motivation, working conditions, trade union
When: 2009

The Maha Oya Group rubber plantation is located in Sri Lanka. The plantation experienced challenges in labor productivity at the enterprise level. By inviting trade union leaders to identify major challenges at the plantation, the management found a common ground between the two parties. The unions aimed to increase employee welfare and the management aimed to increase plantation income. Both these aims could be reached by enhanced labor productivity.

The developments included the improvement of employee facilities like housing, the implementation of a production incentive scheme and the development of a company motto. Through shared agenda-setting and frequent meetings combining direct and indirect employee participation, the reforms were implemented smoothly and employees got a sense of ownership, improving their motivation.

After the implementation of the improved employee facilities, data were collected on yields and employee productivity at one of the divisions during the project. This division initially functioned poorly compared to the others and was characterized by weak working relations, high absenteeism and cases of theft and intimidation. The combination of improvements at the plantation mentioned above and the increase in employee motivation changed this situation. Employee productivity increased strongly, as shown in Figure 1. After the implementation, a survey found that 91,1% of the employees indicated confidence in their ability to resolve workplace issues through dialogue, rather than through conflicts. Such improvement implementation resulted in more money available for employee remuneration and facilities, while still increasing profitability.

For guidance on successful social dialogue for businesses, see tool number 4 on the Tools page.

Figure 1. Maha Oya Group plantation productivity



ILO. (2003). Social Dialogue as a Means of Enhancing Productivity and Quality of Work Life: A Case Study of the Maha Oya Group of the Bogawantalawa Plantations Company. ILO.