Nepal Today

Friday, September 30, 2011



Kathmandu, 1 Oct, Devotees flocked Bhagawati temples
Saturday on the fourth day of Dasain Saturday.
Tika is on Thursday.


Kathmandu, 1 Oct.: In a major shift in stance, five leading trade unions including the ones affiliated to UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have agreed on no-work, no-pay and hire and fire provisions on the condition that these provisions will be applied in genuine cases only,
Ashok Thapa writes in Republica.

So far, trade unions would vehemently protest such proposals of the private sector. The breakthrough was achieved when Central Labor Advisory Committee (CLAC) - the apex body for improving industrial relations - met after a gap of almost three years on Friday.

Some major decisions were taken in the meeting, especially the one ending seven-month long confusion over minimum wages. Disputes over the minimum wages were the major reason behind the recent spate of industrial unrest and the confusions prevailed mainly because two agreements were in existence - one that private sector signed with big three trade unions on March 24 and the other that the government signed with smaller and regional trade unions on April 16.

CLAC that has representatives from employers, trade unions and the government agreed to merge the two pacts. Now, the workers will get better pay among the two pacts and in return, trade unions promised not to call any industrial strike for four years. They also agreed to ´conditional´ hire and fire and no-work, no-pay regime.

"We agreed to pay a minimum of Rs 6,200 a month and Rs 231 a day to daily wagers," said Pashupati Murarka, vice-president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

In response, leaders from five participating trade unions agreed to endorse the agreement that FNCCI signed with big three unions including General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF).

"We agreed not to go on strikes for four years and expressed openness to no-work, no-pay, hire and fire and restricting workers participation in political activities," said Ramesh Badal, secretary of GEFONT.

The CLAC meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai himself as the government lacks a Minister for Labor and Transport Management - the designated Chairperson of CLAC. The meeting decided to set up a Labor Relation Reforms Committee (LRRC) at the central level to oversee and take instant actions for addressing industrial disputes. The committee will be coordinated by the Director General of Department of Labor (DoL).

"We also decided to establish 10 LRRCs at the district level to make sure that industrial disputes draw timely attention of the authority and actions are taken promptly to resolve the problems," said Dr Man Bahadur BK, director general of DoL. The district-level LRRCs will be headed by the chief of Labor Office.

As for the social security package, a crucial component of the labor reforms supposed to be implemented by the government, PM Bhattarai instructed the Labor Ministry to take serious initiatives to introduce the Social Security Act. He also instructed officials concerned to finalize flexible labor law.

"This is a historic decision. It has created a win-win situation for both employers and workers," said Murarka. If trade unions respect and stick to their promises, Nepal can soon achieve much-needed labor law reforms.

Conflict still persists

However, fringe trade unions including Tarai-based unions and other two revolutionary factions of ANTUF flayed the CLAC endorsement of no-work, no-pay and hire and fire provisions.

"The agreement goes against the interest of workers. We will strongly protest the decision," said Badri Bajagain, coordinator of ANTUF- Revolutionary. Officials of another faction of ANTUF- Revolutionary led by Lal Dhoj Nembang and Tarai-based trade unions said they oppose all the decisions taken at CLAC, except for the decision on pay revision.

Kathmandu, 1 Oct.: US Congressman Steve Chabot said on Tuesday that Nepal´s decision to support the statehood of Palestine “would not necessarily cause change” in US relation with Nepal, Republica reports.

The remarks of Chabot, who is the head of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia in the US Congress, have come amidst concerns that Nepal´s decision to support the statehood of Palestine may affect Nepal´s relation with the US and Israel

“I do not anticipate that would necessarily cause change in our relation with Nepal,” visiting Congressman Chabot said during a press conference.

Chabot, who is on a trip to South Asian countries, including India, arrived in Nepal on Thursday for a two-day visit to “see things from his own eyes”. He met Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayankaji Shrestha and other political leaders to discuss the peace process, constitution writing, human rights and other bilateral issues on Friday. He also met Chief of Army Staff Chhatraman Singh Gurung.

Replying to journalists, the Congressman from Ohio also outlined US foreign policy priorities in Nepal. He said that promoting peace process, reconciliation, encouraging human rights and trade opportunities were the areas of US interest.

“We want to see security, stability and prosperity in Nepal,” said Chabot. He also said that there are a lot of opportunities for investment, hydropower and tourism in Nepal.

The Congressman from Ohio appreciated Nepal´s assistance to Tibetan refugees and the works of Maiti Nepal. On the issue of Tibetan refugees, US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi, who sat by the side of the Congressman during the press conference, said that US stresses on upholding the rights of refugees worldwide whether they are Tibetans or Bhutanese.

Asked if the US sees Nepal from other´s eyes, especially of India, he said, “No. Our relation with India is important. Our relation with China is important. Our relation with Nepal is important.”



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