POKHARA: More than 100 foreign tourists today bore the brunt of stubborn and asinine behaviour of Maoist-aligned hotel workers in Pokhara.
As many as 120 guests staying at the Fishtail Lodge in Pokhara had to be shifted to other hotels in town after Maoist-aligned All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Labour Union brought all the services there to a grinding halt. General Manager of Fishtail, Pradeep Sumsher Junga Bahadur Rana, said the guests had to be shifted from the lodge after the Maoist-aligned workers refused to work demanding reinstatement of Nanda Prasad Sharma, who was sacked by the hotel management 11 days ago. Sharma was serving as security in-charge in the hotel.
The guests have been shifted to Grand, Shangrila and Temple Tree hotels, among others. Fifty-six of the 60 rooms of the hotel were booked.
GM Rana said though the lodge was not completely shut, it could not provide services following the workers’ agitation. There are 121 workers at the hotel. Tourism entrepreneurs termed the incident ‘unfortunate’ and said it would send a negative message across the world, especially when Nepal is celebrating Nepal Tourism Year-2011 and aiming to attract one million tourists. Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation Kishor Thapa echoed the entrepreneurs.
ANHRLU Fishtail Unit Chairman Jit Bahadur Thebe said the workers stopped ferrying the tourists to lodge after ‘the management failed to pay heed to their demand to reinstate Sharma’.
The hotel management, on the other hand, said Sharma was dismissed after he failed to carry out his duties satisfactorily. “The management has taken every decision as per the existing law,” said GM Rana.
The Maoist-aligned workers said Sharma had served without pay for 40 days. The union accused the management of sacking him on the 237th day of his work. “He should have got the permanent status after completing 240 days,” said union members. Sharma had joined the work 10 months ago. Fishtail, which is run by Jayanti Memorial Trust, in the last year alone had done business to the tune of Rs 8 crores.
Meanwhile, a meeting held between different trade unions, Western Region Hotel Union, Fishtail management and Pokhara Tourism Council to settle the issue today ended inconclusively. “We will hold talks tomorrow as well,” said GM Rana. Sources at Fishtail said the Maoist workers were piling pressure on others and even threatening them not to go to work.