Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest on living wage and income  
Need help?

Sri Lanka

World bank, 2016
Poverty headcount ratio at $3.20 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)
11%
Population below international poverty line

Varies by sector and industry.

variable
National minimum wage

Equivalent to 23,785 Sri Lankan rupees per worker per month.
Global Living Wage Coalition, 2019

103
per month
Rural living wage
World bank, 2019
Employment in agriculture (% of total employment) (modeled ILO estimate)
25%
Agricultural workforce
World bank, 2019
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added (% of GDP)
7%
Agriculture share of GDP

ITUC Global Rights Index, 2020
Systematic violation of rights.

 

4
high
Risk to workers' rights

Context

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 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, plantains, sugar cane, and mangoes,[9] while arranged by export quantity the top commodities are tea, fibre crops, wheat, nuts, and coconuts. [10]

Footnotes
  1. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=LK
  2. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS?locations=LK
  3. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS?locations=LK
  4. ^ World Bank. (2020). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS?locations=LK
  5. ^ World Bank. (2019). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.AGR.TOTL.ZS?locations=LK
  6. ^ World Bank. (2016). https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.ZS?locations=LK
  7. ^ Kumara, S. (2018). Sri Lankan Agriculture: Goals, Challenges & E-solutions. http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/rap/files/uploads/ESF_Presentations/Sri_lanka_e_solutions_Sisira_Kumara.pdf
  8. ^ IFAD. (2019). https://www.ifad.org/en/web/operations/country/id/sri_lanka
  9. ^ FAOSTAT. (2018). http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#rankings/commodities_by_country
  10. ^ FAOSTAT. (2018). http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#rankings/commodities_by_country_exports

Wages

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Sri Lanka varies greatly by sector. But in the near future, it is expected that a minimum wage of 10,000 Sri Lanka Rupee (43 EUR) per month will be set for all sectors.[1] Regardless of the minimum wage, Sri Lanka's 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]

Footnotes
  1. ^ Wage Indicator Foundation (2020). Minimum Wage-Sri Lanka. https://wageindicator.org/salary/minimum-wage/sri-lanka
  2. ^ U.S. Department of State. (2019). https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/sri-lanka/

Living Wage

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

The living wage benchmark has been estimated at 23,785 Sri Lankan Rupees (103 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]

Footnotes
  1. ^ Anker, M. and Anker, R. (2019). Update: Living Wage Report, Sri Lanka, Estate Sector- Context Provided in the Tea Sector. https://www.globallivingwage.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Sri-Lanka-Living-Wage-Study-Companion-Paper-2019.pdf
  2. ^ Thibbotuwawa, M., Jayawardena, P., Arunatilake, N., and Gunasekera, N. (2015). Living Wage Report: Sri Lanka. https://www.globallivingwage.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Sri-Lanka-Living-Wage-report.pdf

What's happening

resource

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, 2019.   

initiative

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.

resource

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.

resource

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.

resource

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.

Learned enough?