Nepal’s Coke bottler runs into labour trouble

September 25th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 25 (IANS) After multinationals Dabur Nepal and United Telecom Ltd, it’s now the turn of Bottlers Nepal, the sole bottler of Coca-Cola products in Nepal, to run into labour trouble in the Himalayan republic with production slowing down over bonus demands.Five labour unions, including those affiliated to the ruling Maoist party and former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party, disrupted work at Bottlers Nepal’s two factories in Balaju, Kathmandu and Bharatpur in Chitwan district along the Indo-Nepal border, demanding a hefty bonus for the coming Nepali festival of Dashain.

The dispute began 10 days ago leading to the slowdown of production at the two factories.

Bottlers Nepal employs nearly 500 workers and dominates Nepal’s soft drink market.

The company finally struck a deal with the agitating unions Wednesday, the terms of which have not been made public.

During the 10-year People’s War waged by the Maoists, Bottlers Nepal had been frequently targeted by rebels who sought to impose an economic blockade on the government.

The labour trouble at the bottling company comes close on the heels of a cease-work by workers at the Bara factory of Indian ayurvedic giant Dabur’s wholly-owned subsidiary Dabur Nepal since last month.

The Dabur Nepal strike was called by the labour union affiliated to the Maoist party over a 10 percent bonus demand.

Though the workers lifted their siege this month, Dabur Nepal is yet to resume work with the management demanding that the union sign an eight-point agreement that bars workers from going on strike and enables action against errant workers.

Labour trouble has also been reported by United Telecom Ltd, Nepal’s first private telecom operator, in which the majority stake is held by three Indian entities - private sector telecom operator Tata Telecommunications, state-owned operator Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, and public sector telecom consultancy Telecommunications Consultants India.

The breakout of fresh labour trouble comes even as the new Maoist-led government of Nepal is seeking greater foreign investment in Nepal in a bid to revive a drooping economy.

Nepal’s deputy prime minister Bamdev Gautam, who is also the home minister, said Tuesday while inaugurating a power summit that the new government was committed to providing immediate security to foreign investors as well as long-term guarantees for their investment.

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