Indian joint venture in Nepal wants recruitment order reviewOctober 16th, 2008 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Oct 16 (IANS) Indian joint venture firm United Telecom Ltd (UTL), Nepal’s first private telecom operator, has requested the Maoist-led government to review an order of the previous government directing it to absorb workers hired by a third-party contractor.UTL, promoted by telecom operators Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd and Tata Communications Ltd along with state-owned consultancy Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd, has been held to ransom for nearly nine months by a trade union affiliated to the Nepali Congress party that led the previous government.
The union, the United Telecom Workers’ Union (UTWU), comprises employees hired by a third-party contractor for UTL in Nepal, who have been demanding direct and permanent employment with UTL.
Though UTL says third-party contracting is common in India and elsewhere with even state agencies availing of it to cut down costs, and that it has no direct involvement with the contracted workers, the union has kept up protests at UTL offices, frequently padlocking gate to prevent employees and customers from entering.
The previous government led by Girija Prasad Koirala had formed two committees to resolve the dispute under joint secretaries at the labour and transport management ministries.
In their reports, both had said the protesters’ demands were not realistic.
However, during the last days of the Koirala government in August, the then labour and transport management minister Ramesh Lekhak, who belongs to Koirala’s party, issued a letter saying UTL was responsible for the agitating employees and should issue them appointment letters.
Buoyed by the ministerial decision, the union started protests before the UTL headquarters in Kathmandu’s Putali Sadak Thursday afresh, blocking the way and shouting slogans.
“We are ready for talks with the UTL management,” Sundar K.C., spokesman of the union, told IANS. “But they are not ready.”
The union says the chief district officer sent a letter to UTL Wednesday, asking it to start parleys but the joint venture has not responded so far.
UTL officials said they have petitioned the current labour and transport management minister Lekhraj Bhatt, asking him to review the decision taken by his predecessor.
“Since the decision was taken on the last day of the minister’s tenure, it smacks of a political vendetta,” the officials said.
Prior to the Koirala government, UTL was victimised during the government of King Gyanendra as well, with its phone lines being shut down for long periods to boost the phone services started by a new company chaired by the royal son-in-law.
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Tags: appointment letters, mahanagar telephone nigam ltd, nepali congress party, telecom ltd, telecom operator, telecom operators, telecom workers, telecommunications consultants, united telecom, utl nepal