Nepal Lever under Maoist strike threat

March 8th, 2011 - 7:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, March 8 (IANS) Dozens of industries in central Nepal, including Nepal Lever Ltd, one of the biggest Indian joint ventures in the country, faced the threat of disruption as a trade union of the Maoist party called an indefinite strike from Tuesday, demanding that minimum wages be hiked to NRS 10,000 (nearly $140).

Nepal Lever’s factory is located in Basmadi in Makwanpur, the district where the Maoist trade union called the strike after talks with representatives of industries and chambers of commerce broke down.

The strike is being supported by the labour unions affiliated to the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Nepali Congress. While the Maoists and communists are members of the new ruling coalition, the Nepali Congress is in opposition.

They are also the three largest parties in parliament.

Though three years ago, the then government had officially set minimum wages as NRS 4,600 per month, the union said it was seeking NRS 10,000 due to soaring inflation, which has crossed double digits.

The industries, reeling under an almost 20-hour power cut during working hours, frequent labour trouble and deteriorating security, said they would not be able to meet the demand.

Nepal Lever officials could not be contacted immediately for details of how the strike was going to affect the company.

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

Since the Maoists rejoined the government after the fall of their ruling alliance in 2009, fear has been spreading through industries that portend greater labour unrest and disruption.

Strikes have been on the cards since last week, when the parent Maoist trade union submitted a memorandum to communist Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, demanding a raise in minimum wages and daily wages.

The current state prescribed daily wage is NRS 190.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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