ITC’s garment factory reopens in Nepal after appeasing Maoists

May 30th, 2009 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 30 (IANS) After a 48-hour closure, Indian tobacco major ITC’s NRS 25 crore, state-of-the-art garment factory in southern Nepal has reopened with the management appeasing the Maoist trade union that flexed its muscle.
The factory in Biratnagar, which employs over 700 people, mostly women, was closed Thursday by the management over security concerns after the Maoist trade union beat up a management staff following the sacking of its leader, trade unionist Kali Bahadur Mangden.

The dispute started after the management sacked Mangden and began facing protests from the Maoist trade union, demanding that the dismissed man be reinstated.

Finally, after negotiations Friday, the authorities agreed to reinstate Mangden.

Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, a joint venture in which ITC owns 59 percent shares with the rest held by British American Tobacco and private Nepali investors, is one of Nepal’s blue chip companies and the second highest tax payer.

Nepal’s leading tobacco manufacturer, it diversified into manufacturing garments in 2004. Three years later, the foundation of a state of the art garments factory was laid at Biratnagar to produce John Players, Springwood as well as Miss Players brands of clothing for export to India as well as the Nepal market.

Last year, Surya Nepal’s tobacco factory in Simra, also in southern Nepal, was shut down by labour unions who demanded a rise in pay and perks.

During the 10-year People’s War fought by the Maoists, Surya Nepal had been frequently targeted by the rebels along with other leading Indian joint ventures.

Though the Maoists signed a peace pact in 2006 and promised to lay down arms as well as stop industrial strikes, the promise has been frequently violated.

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