Sunday, December 14, 2008

Minister's sermon to guard against flight of capital

The Maoist-led government plans to come down heavily on militant trade unionism, which is having an adverse impact on the industries.
"If there is regular disturbance in the industrial sector, then there will be a flight of capital soon," Lekhraj Bhatta, Minister for Labour and Transport Management, said here today. "The government is mulling over banning strikes. Talks are the best way to resolve any forms of dispute," he said.
According to the minister, hectic parleys are on to reopen the padlocked industries. Bhatta's potion for stir-happy unions: The bodies should inform the companies a good 12 hours in advance before they announce unilateral closure.
Some three dozen industries in the Birgunj-Pathlaiya trade corridor are closed since last week. The ongoing strike is a fall out over the vexed minimum wage issue. The government has hiked it from Rs 3,300 to Rs 4,600 (Rs 3,050 as basic salary and Rs 1,550 as dearness allowance).
The government-affiliated trade unions, including the ruling Maoists' body, have ensured the closure. They are demanding an across-the-board increase in monthly salary for all workers, irrespective of their wages and designations, flouting the government order.
The industrialists have been crying foul of the unions' move, dubbing it 'illegitimate'. But, the stir-hardened unions are firmly standing their ground.
They claim that the agreement inked between the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and various union bodies is inadvertently got distorted in the official Gazette.
Though, there seems to be no confusion over the basic salary figure, problem persists as far as dearness allowance and allowance are concerned.
The unions maintain that the Gazette states 'salary and allowances will be adjusted' -- instead of salary and dearness allowance -- hiked only after January 15, 2008, as agreed by the two parties on November 30.
Seven trade unions including Maoists-affiliated All Nepal Federation of Trade Union, UML's GEFONT, NC-affiliated Nepal Trade Union Congress today issued a release, stating that the confusion over the dearness allowance is on thanks to 'distortion' in the Gazette. "It is hampering industrial environment," stated the release. They urged the government to rectify the anomalies at the earliest to ensure industrial growth and output.

Transport fare to go down
KATHMANDU: Minister for Labour and Transport Management Lekhraj Bhatta has promised to reduced transport fares by seven to 10 per cent in a couple of days. But the pledge rings hollow in the light of his inability to implement the revised fare-structure deal that he had sealed with transport entrepreneurs. At that point, the fares were slashed by six per cent in diesel-run vehicles and seven per cent in petrol-operated ones. "This time round, those who are found guilty of flouting the government's directive will be hauled up. Their route permit will be cancelled," he threatened. But private transport operators are in no mood to relent. They are arbitrarily charging the commuters despite the cut in fuel prices by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) as many as three times.

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