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Sri Lanka

World bank, 2019
Poverty headcount ratio at $3.65 a day (2017 PPP) (% of population)
Population below international poverty line

Equivalent to 12,500 Sri Lankan Rupees per worker per month.
WageIndicator Foundation, 2023

per month
National minimum wage

Equivalent to 47,464 Sri Lankan rupees per worker per month.
Global Living Wage Coalition, 2023

per month
Rural living wage

Equivalent to 113,987 Sri Lankan rupees per worker per month.
Global Living Wage Coalition, 2023

per month
Urban living wage
World bank, 2021
Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate)
Agricultural workforce
World bank, 2022
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added (% of GDP)
Agriculture share of GDP

ITUC Global Rights Index, 2023
Systematic violation of rights.

Risk to workers' rights


Sri Lanka has a population of nearly 22 million people,[1] with 81% of its inhabitants living in rural areas[2] and the rest 19% in urban centres.[3] The agricultural sector employs a quarter of the workforce[4] and accounts for 8.7% of the nation's GDP.[5]

Agriculture is highly important for Sri Lanka's economy and roughly 44% of the country's land is used for agricultural production.[6] Yet, agriculture in Sri Lanka is characterised by low levels of mechanization and productivity.[7] Smallholders are responsible for around 70% of the total tea production, the most important export in Sri Lanka, and still they account for half of the poor rural people.[8]

The top commodities produced in Sri Lanka are rice, coconuts, tea leaves, sugar cane and plantains,[9] while arranged by export quantity the top commodities are fibre crops, tea, wheat, nuts, and coconuts. [10]

  1. ^ World Bank. (2022).
  2. ^ World Bank. (2022).
  3. ^ World Bank. (2022).
  4. ^ World Bank. (2021).
  5. ^ World Bank. (2022).
  6. ^ World Bank. (2016).
  7. ^ Kumara, S. (2018). Sri Lankan Agriculture: Goals, Challenges & E-solutions.
  8. ^ IFAD. (2019).
  9. ^ FAOSTAT. (2021).
  10. ^ FAOSTAT. (2021).


Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Sri Lanka varies is 12,500 Sri Lankan Rupees (32 EUR).[1] Regardless of the value, national authorities have not been effective in protecting labour rights or securing basic working conditions. Worker protections are not enforced in the informal sector, nor in all formal sectors.[2]

  1. ^ Wage Indicator Foundation (2023). Minimum Wage-Sri Lanka.
  2. ^ U.S. Department of State. (2019).

Living Wage

The Global Living Wage Coalition has developed a living wage benchmark for the tea estate sector in Sri Lanka, and a living wage reference value for urban Sri Lanka.

The living wage benchmark has been estimated at 47,464 Sri Lankan Rupees (122 EUR) per month based on a family of 4.5 with 1.76 full-time workers.[1] Tea is a major commodity in Sri Lanka, both nationally and for export, and is mainly grown on large tea estates in mountainous regions in the middle of the country. Tea estates are defined as plantations with more than 20 acres and a minimum of 10 workers and it is estimated that around 20 million Sri Lankans live on such estates. The wages of tea workers vary according to their role and if they are pluckers, it depends on the amount of their daily collection. Thus, there is a considerable difference between the prevailing wages for most workers on the tea plantations and the estimated living wage for the tea estate sector.[2]

A reference value was also estimated for urban areas of Sri Lanka at 113,987 Sri Lankan Rupees (293 EUR) per worker per month. This comprises a net living wage of 104,868 Sri Lankan Rupees (269 EUR), plus social security contribution of 9,119 Sri Lankan Rupees (23 EUR), and reflects inflation of 35.3% compared to 2022. Without accounting for inflation, the living wage estimated in 2022 would not be sufficient for families to have a basic but decent standard of living because the purchasing power would have considerably decreased.[3] 

  1. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition (2023). Living Wage Report, Sri Lanka, Estate Sector- Context Provided in the Tea Sector.
  2. ^ Thibbotuwawa, M., Jayawardena, P., Arunatilake, N., and Gunasekera, N. (2015). Living Wage Report: Sri Lanka.
  3. ^ Global Living Wage Coalition (2023). Living Wage Reference Value — Urban Sri Lanka.

Living income 

The Living Wage Benchmark study for the the Estate Sector in Sri Lanka included a Living Income estimate. The cost of basic but decent living for a family of 4.5 with 1.76 workers to  estimated at 76,266 Sri Lankan Rupees (196 EUR) per month 

What's happening


Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coconut from Sri Lanka

A Fairtrade LIRP indicates the price needed for an average farmer household with a viable farm size and an adequate productivity level to make a living income from the sales of their crop. This study was valid in 2022. 


Living Wage Reference Value — Urban Sri Lanka

Living wage reference value for urban Sri Lanka. Global Living Wage Coalition. 


Living Wage Benchmark, Sri Lanka's Tea Estate Sector

Living wage estimate for workers in Sri Lanka’s tea sector to be able to afford a basic but decent living standard. Global Living Wage Coalition. 


Ethical Tea Partnership

Initiative to improve the livelihoods of tea farmers and their families across the globe. Projects in Sri Lanka seek to empower women and strengthen income.


Sustainability Issues in the Tea Sector

This report by SOMO, explores the economic, social and ecological conditions in the tea industry by comparing six leading producing countries.


Future Work Prospects in the Sri Lankan Tea Sector

This ILO report promotes understanding of the role of smallholder farmers in tea value chains, the state of decent work, and the implications for future work in Sri Lanka's tea sector.


Fair Compensation in Global Supply Chains

This Fair Labor Association report assesses factory wages, mainly from garment workers, in 21 countries to help buyers and suppliers move toward better compensation.

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