After Nepal Lever, ITC and Dabur Nepal face indefinite closure

March 9th, 2011 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, March 9 (IANS) As Hindustan Unilever’s subsidiary in Nepal lies closed, two other blue-chip Indian companies, ITC and Dabur India, also face similar threats over their joint ventures in Nepal with the Maoists calling an indefinite strike from March 26.

From Tuesday, the factories of nearly 80 companies, including Hindustan Unilever’s subsidiary Nepal Unilever in Basmadi town, closed indefinitely after the All Nepal Industrial Trade Union affiliated to the Maoist party called a strike in Makwanpur district to press their demand for a minimum pay of NRS 10,000 (nearly $140) per month, up from the current NRS 4,600.

Nepal Unilever authorities were reported as saying the closure of the factory would cause a daily loss of nearly NRS 4 million while the entire industrial corridor was losing NRS 80 million.

The Maoists, who rejoined the communist government last Friday, are now enforcing strikes in different industrial areas of the country despite a pledge by their chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda last year to withdraw all strikes throughout 2011 in order to support the government’s initiative to promote the year as tourism year intended to bring in one million air-borne tourists.

This is the second industrial strike called by the Maoists. Last month, they targeted Kaski district, forcing the industries there to announce a raise of NRS 1,500 after a day’s closure.

Maoist MP and head of the party’s main trade union Shalikram Jamarkattel said in a statement that protests would also begin in southern Nepal’s Bara and Parsa districts from Tuesday.

ITC’s JV Surya Nepal has its tobacco factory in Simara town in Bara district while Dabur Nepal’s factory is in Rampur Tokni in the same district.

Jamarkattel said the warning had been delivered in the southern Birgunj industrial corridors last week. Other forms of protests will go on till March 25 after which, if the industries fail to hike minimum wages to NRS 10,000 per month, an indefinite strike will be called from March 26.

Surya Nepal’s garments factory, which produces its John Players brand of garments, is located in Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, which too lies under a similar closure threat.

The call for higher minimum wages is also being supported by the labour unions affiliated to the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the opposition Nepali Congress though they said they were not supporting the strike.

The industries, reeling under almost 20-hour power cuts during working hours, frequent labour trouble and deteriorating security, are saying they will not be able to meet the demand.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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