Kathmandu, June 17
Hotel Hyatt Regency announced today that it would temporarily cease operations and not accept any bookings until the dispute with the trade union was sorted out. As services at the hotel were affected due to workers’ protests that have been going on for the past five days, the hotel has decided to stop operations for an indefinite period.
According to workers, the issue is not just about not receiving facilities, but also about misbehaviour by the management. “We only asked the management to fulfil clauses mentioned in our agreement letter, but they have not bothered to address our concerns. Moreover, they started exploiting us,” said Mukti Dahal, president of the hotel’s trade union.
According to him, the high-level management team is not letting workers take leave or a break during working hours.
Dahal said, “Our agreement mentions that we can take 90 days compensatory leave annually, while we are getting only 78 days leave. Our sick leave has also been reduced to 30 days from 45 days per year.”
According to him, from 2004 to 2018, a total of Rs 179 million was collected as tips, but only Rs 20 million has been distributed among the workers so far. Currently, there are around 400 workers employed in Hyatt Regency.
Dahal claimed that the hotel management was using workers as scapegoats to avoid the controversy that it was embroiled in with the government. He said everything was okay till 2018, but in the beginning of 2019 the management changed the rules. “A controversy related to land and ownership of Taragaon Regency Hotel Ltd came to the fore in recent days. To digress from that issue, the hotel has been resorting to activities against workers,” he said.
On the other hand, Rani Bang, chief financial controller of Taragaon Regency, said, “It is not true that the hotel has cut workers’ facilities. They are painting themselves as victims and holding protests against the law. To meet the interest of a few workers, others are being victimised in this protest.”
She accused the trade union of threatening the hotel management.
A notice published in the Nepal Gazette on April 22 warns against holding any protest or strike in tourism spots such as hotels, motels, restaurants and resorts. “Going against this law, the authorised trade union of All Nepal Hotel, Casino and Restaurant Workers Association at the hotel has conducted this protest,” Bang added.
As per the Human Resources Department of the hotel, on June 12 they had asked 15 workers of the Stewarding Department to give a written clarification for being absent for many days. And from the very next day, workers started protesting against the management, which is illegal.
As the situation was getting worse, the hotel management transferred their guests to other hotels. Currently, there are 280 rooms, including seven suites and 35 regency club rooms, in the hotel.
The room occupancy rate of Hyatt never goes below 50 per cent even during the off-season. The HR department has also accused the trade union of threatening workers to dissuade them from going to work.
A version of this article appears in print on June 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.