Trade union trouble dogs hotel-restaurant sector

KATHMANDU: Though Nepal Tourism Year 2011 was formally launched today, the looming shadow of trade union trouble remains over many five-star hotels in the country.

Trade unions are still causing trouble in most five-star hotels in the valley over salary issue. This, when the stipulated minimum salary is Rs 4600 a month and most hotels are paying anything between Rs 14,793 to Rs 12,500 at a minimum.

Even the least paying hotel is providing Rs 7,445 monthly salary while eight five-star hotels are paying an average of Rs 11,692 monthly as salary, which is more than double the amount stipulated by the government.

Tips and other benefits

received by workers at hotels are not included in their monthly salary, so anyone can earn a

decent sum of money aside

from the salary.

Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) and the trade unions had reached an agreement where if the unions had problems they were to settle them at their respective central headquarters and not disrupt the day-to-day working environment of hotels. However, the formula has

not worked. HAN is adhering

to the agreement, but trade unions in separate hotels do not abide by the agreement and create disturbances.

Against the spirit of the agreement, many hotels are facing severe union issues which disrupts their smooth functioning. With Nepal Tourism Year 2011 preparations in full swing, if labour problems are not countered and dealt with in a strategic manner, the country will face many problems in making 2011 a success.

Though the unions blame hotels, HAN is undeterred. “We stand by the agreement reached between the central trade unions and HAN,” said Madhav Om Shrestha of HAN.

Meanwhile, sixteen parties including the Maoists have come to an agreement where issues like bandhs and strikes will be curtailed to ensure the smooth rallying of NTY 2011, which is projected as a critical turning point for Nepal’s tourism and economy. However, until labour issues prevailing in hotels and restaurants are not resolved, the base of the sector that caters to tourists will remain shaky and disturbed.

The general feeling among the people is that unions have to be kept in check by parties after signing the agreement for ensuring a smooth and successful NTY and providing security not just to hospitality organisations but also to incoming tourists.