Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Solidarity with the Nepalese Workers Movement

Posted by Sole on January 19, 2009

(Flag of the All Nepal Trade Union Federation (Revolutionary))

(Flag of the All Nepal Trade Union Federation (Revolutionary))

This interview appeared in the latest issue of Red Star (Issue 21) under the title, “Request for Solidarity with Nepalese Workers Movement”.

Interview with  Shalik Ram Jamarkattel

On first december the workers in Nepal got a wage revision, with the Labour Advisory Committee supporting the agreement between industry owners and workers on the question of increasing the minimum wages. A meeting of the committee chaired by Mr Lekh Raj Bhatia, Minister for Labour and Transport endorsed the proposal. A task force was set up to give their recommendations of whether, the news standards of wages should be applicable to the jute industry, since it has to stand up to competition from the Indian jute industry.

Another committee would recommend on likely measures expected from the government to help the labour intensive carpet and garment industry as the impact would be widely felt in these industries too. But, ten days after endorsing the agreement between entrepreneurs and trade unions, workers shut down over 70 industries in Birgunj industrial corridor on 11th December. They demanded that all employees get salary as they are entitled to as the government announced increment of 1300/- in their basic salary.

Multi national companies like Surya Nepal, Sriram sugar mills, Triveni Textiles remained closed as the management of these companies remained adamant that the agreement reached earlier didn’t mean all workers get the increment, but only those who are earning le4ss than 4600/- by december 1st.

But workers affiliated to CPN (Maoist), CPN (UML) and Nepali Congress collectively argued that all workers are entitled to 1300/- increment in their basic salary, even if it exceeds 4600/-.

In the mean time on 20th december The Maoist cadres belonging to the ANTUF were blamed for vandalising the Himal Media office at Hattiban in Lalitpur and attacked the staffers including Publisher Kunda Dixit. We asked the president of ANTUF regarding this:

What is the essence of contradiction between workers and management in Himal media?

The management has continuously published anti workers news. They talked about the attack over media and intervention in free press. However, the real issue is that many workers of Himal media were struggling against management because the management had expelled 18 workers from their media house due to being members in All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF). Information Department and labour office made a decision to resettle them in their previous positions. The management did not implement these decisions.

We sat for negotiation twice before. However, the latest incident happened in 21st December. The management call for the workers for negotiations. Management and workers sat for negotiations in the media house. After two hours negotiations, misunderstandings developed and the incident happened. It was pre-planed by the management side because the workers had come for negotiations held by the boss. It was not that workers had attacked them for writing any news against them.

There is no apparent contradiction between Nepali journalist federation and our all Nepal trade union federation. Nevertheless, the journalist federation is an informer of a capitalist or the owner. Its activities are against toiling workers and are in favour of proprietors/capitalists.

The journalists claim themselves to be the toiling workers. What is the difference between the contradiction between journalists and workers?

It is the struggle between the two parties, if we deeply study the issues of contradiction. Labour Act was drafted in Nepal only in 1995. However, only 6% of the workers have been employed according to the act. Only 6% workers have been able to utilize the facility given by the act. Therefore, the laws and acts that government has made are not complete and they cannot address all the professions and employment.

Because of the incompleteness of the acts and laws by the government and breach of the rules by owner has caused the worker’s (labour) sector in an ambiguous situation. This is why it is a struggle between workers and owners. The struggle will continue until the workers get their full rights.

Even in the Nepali Journalists Federation (NJF), we see two different opinions: one opinion has openly supported the capitalists or the owners and they are against labourers and workers. Even C. K. Lal, the well known intellectual, has signed in the decision for the cancellation of our union in Himal media. He has signed as he is a civil servant of Himal media. This is an example of the poverty of intellect.

However, the other opinion in NJF is in favour of real toiling people and workers. The government has just made a new labour act. If the journalists of NJF stand against the labour act, they will be weaker in coming days because they themselves claim to be workers. We have discussed and come to the conclusion to harmonise relationship between workers and the journalists.

Does it mean the journalists are not independent and free as they have claimed?

Yes, they are not independent and free though they themselves claim to be so. They are under the pressure of some power, the individuals or owners. The journalists can not write freely. Nepalese journalists are forced to write to fulfill the mission of their owner. They are obliged to do this for their bread and butter. Journalists are repressed by their owners. The mission of owner is the mission of the journalists.

The owners are concealing themselves under the cover of journalism to fulfill a particular goal. They attack a certain class for their profit and at the same time they serve a certain class. The mission of the owner has been the mission of the journalists they have employed. They are not free and press is not independent in Nepal

The decision by the government of Nepal is not followed and implemented by the owners. What is your opinion about it?

The workers who were accused went to the administration because of the accusation by owner Kunda Dixit of Himal media. Now they have been released. We were about to make the issue straightforward but the owners wanted to prolong it.

Some of the ‘professional’ Medias tried to de-politicise the character of the worker. Their mission was to attack workers by creating false impression against them. All the Nepalese people and the workers have understood it clearly. It was the misuse of media.

Have you been able to make any preliminary agreements with Nepali Journalists Federation?

Recently, we have discussed in the office of NJF. The federation invited us for discussion. We discussed and shared some common points. The president of NJF assured that NJF is not against the toiling people and the workers. After discussion we came to the conclusion that we will advance our programme harmoniously at least on the issues of the workers. We have agreed to narrow down the gaps by continuous discussion and the agreement.

How can you ensure the workers that the decision of the government on the workers facilities will be implemented by the owners?

The movement of the workers is spreading all over the country. Factory workers are in the street. The issues of the workers employed in Himal, Kantipur and Annapurna Media Houses are not still solved. The decisions and the agreements are not yet implemented. The problem will be easily solved if the owners or the management is eager to implement the agreements and the decision of the government. If they do not take any step to solve the problem, there will remain no option but to struggle for workers because the workers can not live in scarcity and hunger.

What do you expect from the revolutionary and pro-people parties, organizations, institutions and individuals from international arena?

In Nepal, we have to complete the workers movement. Nepalese workers have not got even the minimum facilities that most of the international workers have in similar working conditions. Still, even the workers in the international scenario are repressed and exploited. They are facing the same problem as the Nepalese workers.

I would like to request all the workers and the parties and the organizations of the workers in the world for solidarity with Nepalese workers movement. I request pro-people institutions and individuals to put hand in hand in the incessant struggle of the workers.

2 Responses to “Solidarity with the Nepalese Workers Movement”

  1. Solidarity from the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia.

  2. apologies,
    that should be Democratic Socialist Perspective*

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