JILAF held a two-day seminar on industrial relations and labour policy in Kathmandu, Nepal, on December 13–14 for the three organizations affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), namely, the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), and the All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF). Fifty-seven people attended, and 11 media organizations covered the seminar’s first day, including the Kantipur National Daily, News 24, and Mountain TV.
At the beginning of the opening ceremony, addresses were given by Mr. Prakash Sharma of the International Labour Organization’s Kathmandu Office; Mr. Pashupati Murarka, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI); representatives of each national center, and Mr. Masashi Ogawa, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Japan in Nepal. Mr. Shunichi Uemura, a researcher in international labour standards in the Minister’s Secretariat of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, who was attending as a proxy of Japanese State Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare Gaku Hashimoto, then read a message on behalf of the state minister. An address was also given by Bangladesh’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi, who said, “We are deeply grateful for JILAF’s efforts, which are contributing to the social and economic development of Nepal and raising the status of workers in a sustained manner. Especially in hard times like these, JILAF’s presence and this kind of seminar are even more significant.”
In the seminar, a JILAF speaker delivered a lecture on constructive industrial relations in Japan and the prevention of futile industrial disputes, saying that “In order to respond to increasingly complex industrial relations, please use Japan’s mature industrial relations [which strike a balance between cooperation through labour-management consultations and confrontation through collective bargaining] and experience as a reference. In addition, I hope that the three national centers will go beyond the differences in their ideologies and beliefs and contribute to political stability too.”
Next, Mr. Uday Kumar Gupta, an inspector at the Bangladeshi Ministry of Labour and Employment, gave a talk titled “Industrial Relations in Nepal,” in which he pointed out that “The entry of foreign companies is essential for economic development” and that for this purpose, in addition to political stability, “The contribution of workers to productivity improvement and shedding of hostile industrial relations are urgent issues..” In response, questions from the floor focused on such topics as the mechanism for determining minimum wages by occupation and means of dispute resolution.
Furthermore, NTUC General Secretary Mahendra Prasad Yadav and NTUC Treasurer Yogendra Kumar Kunwar proposed issues relating to “industrial relations” and “globalization and industrial relations,” leading to discussions with the participants on such topics as (1) unfair dismissal and the switch to regular employee status, (2) the social security fund, (3) vocational training and infrastructure improvement to attract foreign companies and capital, (4) the ILO’s core labour standards, (5) compliance by employers with labour legislation and the protection of human rights, and (6) outsourcing regulations.
On the second day, Mr. Hansa Ram Pandey, head of the FNCCI’s Bureau of Employers’ Activities and Industrial Relations, spoke about the difficulty of promoting foreign investment in Nepal, where infrastructure is inadequate, and the importance of building relations of mutual trust between labour and management and finding a balance between cooperation and confrontation. “Toward the building of relations of trust between labour and management,” he concluded, “it is necessary to consider means of presenting problems other than strikes, such as the establishment of regular consultations between labour and management, and to persuade employers about the possibilities of contributing to productivity improvement.”
The participants then took part in group discussions. Relating to the two themes of “Toward the building of constructive industrial relations” and “Toward the unification and strengthening of Nepal’s labour movement,” they agreed that the building of Japanese-style industrial relations would be beneficial for both labour and management and identified such issues as (1) labour legislation that ignores workers (and emphasizes employers) and the mechanism of industrial dispute resolution; (2) the tendency of employers to belittle and begrudge trade unions; and (3) violation of the human rights of women and migrant workers.
Finally, the two-day seminar ended with a talk by JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo based on his long experience as a trade union executive in Japan. Referring to the basic trade union spirit of mutual assistance, he spoke about (1) building an organization that is trusted by trade union members, the workplace, the company, and the local community, (2) human resource development for the maintenance, development, and continuity of the organization, and (3) joint action by the three national centers in Nepal and unification of the labour movement for the sake of the people and workers, who face the most difficult conditions socially.
|12/13||Tue||Industrial relations and labour policy seminar day 1|
|12/14||Wed||Industrial relations and labour policy seminar day 2|