Maoist unions give 48-hour ultimatum to ITC’s Nepal arm

December 10th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 10 (IANS) Nepal’s powerful Maoist trade unions have given a 48-hour ultimatum to tobacco, hospitality and paper giant ITC’s Nepal arm to implement the new minimum wages fixed by the new government or face an indefinite closure.Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd, the 22-year-old subsidiary of ITC in Nepal in which British American Tobacco as well as Nepali investors own stakes, was served the warning Tuesday by the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Industrial Workers Federation and the All Nepal Security Workers Federation, according to a regional trade organisation umbrella body.

The Bara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said Wednesday the two labour unions had closed at least five leading industries in Bara district in southern Nepal, demanding the immediate implementation of the new minimum wages announced by the Maoist-led government.

The tobacco factory of Surya Nepal, the Himalayan republic’s largest private sector enterprise, is located in Simra village in Bara. Though the factory of another leading Indian investor, Dabur Nepal, is also in Bara, the BCCI said as Dabur Nepal had formed a committee to implement the new wages, it had not come under the purview of the warning.

Surya Nepal’s newly established garments factory in Biratnagar town in eastern Nepal also did not come under the warning directed for now at the industries in Bara and its neighbouring Parsa district.

On Saturday, the two unions called a press conference and warned they would begin an indefinite closure of nearly 390 industries in the region if the workers did not receive the wage hike officially
announced by the labour and transport ministry Oct 1.

The announcement has fixed minimum wages at 4,600 Nepali rupees, as against the 3,300 Nepali rupees earlier.

The decision has not gone down well with industrialists, who say they would go out of business since they were already reeling under a six-hour power outage daily, frequent strikes and rapid deterioration in law and order.

However, after negotiations between the trade organisations, labour unions and government representatives, the hike was accepted with some modifications.

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