Nepal Maoist Workers Go on Strike
Posted by D and I Consulting on February 16, 2011
This report comes MyRepublica, and documents the struggle of the Maoists in the Kaski district, for among other things better wages. This however should been seen in the larger context for the demand for revolution and liberation. We will continue to post news from this struggle as it develops.
Pro-Maoist workers shut industries in Kaski
POKHARA, Feb 15: Workers affiliated to UCPN (Maoist) on Tuesday launched an indefinite strike, forcing industries of Kaski district to shut down their operations.
The agitating All Nepal Industrial Worker Association (ANIWA) said it launched the strike because the promoters of the industries continued to ignore their calls to double wage and salary.
“It is difficult to survive with the salary we are receiving currently,” said Bhoj Raj Khatri, chairman of ANIWA. “We will not withdraw our strike unless the management fulfills our demand to double salary.”
According to the agitating workers, 75 percent of the total workers in Kaski are receiving a total salary of Rs 4,600 – the minimum wage fixed by the government.
If the promoters of the industries are to fulfill the workers´ demand, they will have to pay workers Rs 9,200 a month.
The ANIWA office-bearers said they had placed their demand to the management and were pushing for it since mid-June 2010. “We had notified them when we launched the strike, but they paid no heed,” Khatri said.
Stating that Pokhara is one of the most expensive cities in the country where prices of all essential commodities are expensive than Kathmandu — the capital city, Khatri wondered how workers could manage accommodation, food, children´s education, among others, with just Rs 4,600 a month.
The strike, meanwhile, has forced 53 industries operating inside the Pokhara Industrial Estate and another 45 industries based outside of it to shut down their operations. These industries employ 4,500 workers, including 2,500 working in industries within the Pokhara Industrial Estate.
Promoters of the closed industries said they cannot fulfill the workers´ demand. President of Pokhara Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Krishna Mohan Shrestha said the demand was unjustifiable and they were not in a position to fulfill it, especially given the latest rise in operating cost due to 14-hour power cut and rise in bank rates.
During a meeting with trade union representatives, the management representatives clearly spelled out such a stance. Nonetheless, they said they could increase the salary of permanent workers by Rs 1,000 per month.
Shrestha said the demand of workers to hike salary appears genuine due to rise in basic commodities prices. “But employers too are not in comfortable situation. Hence, we believe the problem should be addressed at the government level, instead of industry level,” he added.
“Rising price of commodities has hit public everywhere across the country. The government should take necessary initiatives.”
An industrialist at Pokhara Industrial Estate said the government should revise the minimum wage if it thinks it is inadequate.
“The workers made a mistake by raising the national problem at the local level. No industry can address this demand,” he added.