Kathmandu, November 20:

Around 500 tailors working in 40 tailoring centres in the Kathmandu Valley have decided to stage a hunger strike from Tuesday if their employers fail to meet their demands by tomorrow.

Today, they announced another series of protest programmes against their “stubborn and undemocratic” employers. The tailors are on a strike for a week now, but the employers have turned deaf ears to their demands.

“We waited for a week. If we are not heard till tomorrow, we will sit for 12 to 24-hour sit-in and hunger strike,” said Dinesh Nepali, chairman of the Nepal Free Tailors’ Association at a press meet here today.

The association had put forth its demands to the Nepal Cloth Merchant and Tailoring Association (NCMTA) on September 27. The demands included issuance of identity cards, appointment letters, equal wages, record and attendance, and increment in pay. The tailors have also demanded that the employers stop harassing tailors, including facilities like sanitation, communication, clean drinking water and toilet. They had also served an ultimatum that if their demands were not met by November 11, they would launch further protest plans.

On November 15, the NCMTA held a meeting with its members and informed the protesting tailors that they would provide temporary identity cards, can discuss on increment, sanitation services are there and supported that the tailors should not be harassed. But it added that since the nature of job is temporary, they could not provide permanent jobs to them.

Addressing the press meet, rights activist Professor Kapil Shrestha said the demands of the tailors were genuine and of simple nature.

Dalit leader Padam Lal Bishwokarma said the exploited tailors should seek support from the

trade unions to have their demands fulfilled. “It seems that the executive head and the employers have come to an agreement to exploit poor people going beyond legal limits,” he said.

Ganesh Niraula, treasurer of the Trade Union Congress, expressed full support of all trade unions in the tailors’ fight for their rights as guaranteed by the Labour Act of 2048 BS. “We extend our solidarity. If needed, all 300,000 labourers will take to the streets. And we also make sure that we are ready to mediate talks with employers,” he said.

NCMTA chairman Balkrishna Khadgi told this daily that there was no chance of negotiation with the owners of the tailoring centres. “I’m trying to negotiate, but most of the employers have made up their minds either to hire them as they are or close the business,” he said.