Colgate-Palmolive after-sale row continues in Nepal

November 24th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Nov 24 (IANS) Four days after oral care giant Colgate-Palmolive (India) announced the handover of its wholly owned Nepal subsidiary to a Nepali company, dispute by workers continued to dog the sale with two other local agencies also jumping into the fray.Sold to Everest Hygiene Products Pvt Ltd, the former Colgate-Palmolive (India) factory in Hetauda town in central Nepal’s Makwanpur district has remained closed since Thursday when Colgate announced the divestment in Mumbai.

“There was some confusion among the workers due to lack of transparency in the dissemination of information by the general manager of the Nepal subsidiary,” said Kishore Khanal, owner of the buyer company, who had acted as a facilitator for the multinational when it had made its entry in Nepal 12 years ago.

Khanal, who was in Hetauda Thursday when the Nepal arm’s GM Ramesh Singh Rathore broke the news to the nearly five dozen workers, was detained by the enraged staff for two days at the factory premises while Rathore and finance manager Manoj Jha were handed over to police by the youth wing of a ruling political party.

Now, besides the agitating Nepal arm workers, the employees of two other local companies have also joined the protests.

Ace Packaging and Everest Container Private Ltd, two Hetauda-based companies that had been manufacturing tubes and cartons for Colgate-Palmolive (Nepal) are claiming that they are facing closure due to the sale and are demanding compensation.

Talks between the workers and Colgate-Palmolive’s representatives under the mediation of chambers of commerce and industry as well as the chief district officer Sunday failed to break the deadlock.

The Makwanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry told IANS that the next round of talks has now been scheduled for Thursday.

Khanal said he had no role in the talks and would wait till the seller cleared the “confusion”.

“In 2005, when Colgate-Palmolive (Nepal) shut one of its factories in Hetauda, the workers were given a golden handshake and there was no problem,” he told IANS.

“I am optimistic, we can resume production in about two weeks,” he said.

The Colgate-Palmolive furore comes at a time India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is arriving in Kathmandu on a three-day visit Monday to discuss, among other things, the protection of Indian investment in Nepal.

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