Wage row hits trade hub : War of words amid closure

Birgunj, December 12:

The two militant trade unions affiliated to ruling parties — CPN (Maoist) and CPN (UML) — continued their protest programme today for the second consecutive day and closed almost three dozen industries in the Birgunj-Pathlaiya industrial corridor.

They have even issued ultimatum to the industries — that include Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, 11 industries of Triveni Group, four industries of Golchha group, all industries of Jyoti Group, Nandan Ghee, Saakha Steels and National Polyplast — of complete shut down, if their demands were not met by Monday.

At a time when the government is trying to create investment-friendly environment, their own trade unions are spoiling the environment by closing the industries. CPN (Maoist)-affiliated All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF) and CPN(UML)-affiliated GEFONT gheraued and shut 33 big industries from yesterday blaming the industries for breaching the minimum salary hike pact reached between them and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) on November 30. They are pressing industries for a flat raise of Rs 1,300 to all the staff, who were getting paid more than the recently fixed minimum salary.

Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, Golchha Group and Jyoti Group refused to bow down to their demands saying that they have been paying workers more than the minimum salary fixed by the government recently. “It is unlawful not to comply with the notice published in the Gazette,” said Sushil Dhurka, acting president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The trade unions, however, are saying that the notice published in the Gazette on December 8 is not acceptable for them.

FNCCI, the umbrella organisation of the Nepali private sector, has strongly directed its members not to pay for the period of strike as ‘No work, No pay’ policy. “The workers will not get paid of the period they didnot work as their demands are against the agreement,” said the FNCCI. Badri Bajgain, vice-president of ANTUF alleged the FNCCI for bowing down to the pressure of big industrialists. This policy was political vendetta under the pressure of large industrialists, he said adding that the large industrialists were conspiring against them to worsen industrial environment.

Meanwhile, three industries shut since Thursday resumed their operations from today after they reached agreement in writing for pay hike. According to central member of GEFONT and president of Nepal Independent Workers’ Union (NIWU) Dinesh Rai, “Alliance Pharmaceuticals, Ganapati Ghee and Sam Industries started their operations from today.” Jagadamba Enterprises has also resumed its operation from today, according to ANTUF.

In a bid to put pressure on the management of these industries, ANTUF, GEFONT and Nepal Trade Union Congress at a meeting held in Simara today announced more protest programmes. Rai said

that they will hold corner meetings at the main gates of these industries on Sunday. “On Monday, workers will hold meetings in Simara, Chhatapipara and Parawanipur,”

he informed.