Bakery Cafe, nds & Hot Breads open

KATHMANDU: The recent re-opening of three major food joints in the valley was a relief. Nevertheless, the respective owners of these restaurants are still on tenterhooks.

Labour problems are seething and restaurant entrepreneurs are on their toes trying to counter the problem, even though the brief shutdown of Bakery Café, Hot Breads and nd's did not change the inflow of customers.

"The main problem was the demand for increase in basic salary by 40 per cent and increase in allowance by 100 per cent, which we have been trying to meet but the union does not comprehend," said Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal (Reban) president Tejendra Nath Shrestha.

Most restaurants in the valley are levying the 10 per cent service charge as well as the 13 per cent value added tax (VAT) issued by the government but many are yet to do so, according to Shrestha. Until that is regularised, there will always be a disparity in prices as well as union problems.

"What the union needs to understand is that everyone is earning a good salary as long as the business runs smoothly. However, if work gets hindered due to the workers no one profits from it. Even the basic position of a dishwasher fetches anything between Rs 8000 to Rs 9000 per month," added Shreshtha.

These restaurants have also adhered to the basic salary increase, according to the agreement between Hotel Association of nepal (HAN) and major trade unions affiliated to the major political parties. But one of the trade union's local unit is creating trouble in some of the restaurants in recent days against the agreement signed by their own organisation.

"We held a meeting today and asked the union to give us five months' time to cater to their demands. The pressure to open the restaurants came from the party that the union is affiliated to," said Shrestha.

Along with their salaries, the workers at restaurants are also provided with food and tips as well as overtime pay.

The three restaurants were shut for two days after being shut intermittently for a spate of hours over a long period.