Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal: Maoists Enforce Indefinite Strike

Posted by Harry Sims on March 10, 2011

Workers on Strike in Nepal

From myrepublica.com

The All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF), the agitating trade union, along with two other big trade unions, had last week demanded the government as well as Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) to substantially raise the minimum wage, citing high inflation and soaring cost of living.

Maoists shut down Hetauda industries

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, March 8: Trade union affiliated to UCPN (Maoist) has enforced indefinite strike in Hetauda Industrial Estate, bringing operation of industries there to a grinding halt.

The All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF), the agitating trade union, along with two other big trade unions, had last week demanded the government as well as Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) to substantially raise the minimum wage, citing high inflation and soaring cost of living.

However, ANTFU launched enforced shutdown of industries all of a sudden, walking away from the negotiation table, even as General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) and Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), the other two unions, still preferred to continue talks to get their demands fulfilled.

The unions had asked the government and the FNCCI to fulfill their demands by Wednesday. However, the ANTUF started protest from Tuesday itself.

“The shutdown of industries by one of the parties in the negotiation table has come as a big surprise to us,” said Hamsa Ram Pandey, director of FNCCI, who had been engaged in the negotiations with the trade unions.

The major demands of ANTUF, which is also endorsed by GEFONT and NTUC, include hike in minimum daily wage from existing Rs 190 to Rs 400. They have also urged the government to substantially lower the power outage duration, something which has been affecting production activities.

The strike in Hetauda Industrial Estate has come as the second major blow to the manufacturing industry. A couple of weeks ago, ANTUF in Pokhara had launched a strike putting forth similar demands, bringing operations of all the industries in the western city to a grinding halt.

It had, however, withdrawn the strike after the employers agreed to pay them additional allowance of Rs 1,500 a month and expressed commitment to discuss the issue of raising minimum wage at the tripartite committee in Kathmandu.

Recently, the big three trade unions in Morang-Sunsari corridor and Birgunj-Pathlaiya corridor too had submitted a memorandum to the government for wage hike. They have also warned the government of strike if their demands are not addressed.

FNCCI President Kush Kumar Joshi, meanwhile, tagged the demand of the trade unions as unfair, something which the private sector was not in a position to fulfill at present. “Protracted power cuts, slowed investment and expansion of business have already forced the companies to cut their outputs by more than 50 percent. How can investors´ hike pay in such a situation?” Joshi wondered, speaking at a program in Baglung.

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