Social Security for Farmers, Fishermen and Plantation workers

15 Jan 2014 - Commentary

Social security schemes are focused on addressing vulnerabilities faced by individual workers and their families and providing some income support to overcome situations leading to a loss of income. Workers in the informal sector, including farmers and fisher folk face higher risks and vulnerabilities than employees in the formal sector. Estate workers continue to live in poor living conditions and have struggled to negotiate fair wages for their labour. Social security, as a means of ensuring basic economic protection is a crucial aspect, particularly for these vulnerable groups, though it provides only a narrow coverage against any loss of income they might face.

Pension schemes for farmers and fisher folk and EPF/ETF contributions for plantation workers are the only source of income and savings for survival in their old age. In recent months the government’s inability to pay pensions to farmers who have contributed to the pension fund has raised concerns about the state of social security provisions in Sri Lanka. Concerns have been raised as to whether a funding crisis similar to the one facing the farmer’s pension scheme will befall other pension and employee provident funds. The limitations of existing social security mechanisms undermine workers income after retirement. The Active Citizenship for Development Network (ACDN) has identified the key concerns relating to pension schemes and social security benefits to farmers, fisher folk and plantation workers via discussions in Citizen’s Forums.

This briefing paper aims to raise awareness of the state of social security provisions, to stress the need for government action to address the issues facing farmers, fishermen and plantation workers and provide them with better social protection for the future. It reflects the viewpoints and suggestions of Citizen’s Forum members and their expectations from the state in terms of policy priorities on social welfare and development of the food production sector.

The full report can be downloaded here: