Even shut businesses to pay 50 per cent salary to workers

Kathmandu, April 19

Employers and employees unions have reached an understanding that even industries/ firms that have been shut during the lockdown will pay half the salary to workers for the lockdown period, while firms that are operating will have to make full payment to their staff.

In a discussion held today between employees unions, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Nepalese Industries and Nepal Chamber of Commerce, employees unions accepted the proposal of the aforementioned private sector representatives to pay 50 per cent salary to workers during the lockdown. However, the two sides are yet to ink any agreement to this effect.

Representatives of the Nepal Trade Union Congress and General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions at the meeting today said salary payment of workers should be based on the nature of industries/businesses. “It is time that all employers and employees work together to combat the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is acceptable that businesses that are shut pay half the salary to their staff for the lockdown period. However, businesses that are in operation should pay full salary to their workers,” said Binod Shrestha, president of GEFONT.

Stating that food industries, pharmaceutical companies, banks and others providing essential services are operating even during the lockdown period, employees unions demanded that such industries make full payment to their workers.

As businesses are completely shut during the lockdown imposed by the government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, industries, especially those hit severely by the lockdown and the pandemic, have been seeking support from the government to sustain their employees. A few days back, FNCCI had submitted a memorandum to the government seeking special loan facility to pay salaries of industry workers.

A few industrialists during the meeting had said they were not in a position to pay even 50 per cent salary to workers following complete shutdown of their businesses. However, employee trade unions strongly opposed the idea of not paying salary to workers or cutting staff.

“Everybody, including businesses and workers, is suffering. Workers and employers should create a win-win situation in this critical phase of time. It is the responsibility of workers to help sustain businesses, while it is equally important that businesses take care of their workers. But no business can say workers will not be paid in the time of such crisis,” said Puskar Acharya, president of NTUC.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 20, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.