JILAF, together with the Nepal Affiliate Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-NAC), held an online industrial relations and labour policy seminar on December 7, 2020. A total of 38 people participated.
At the beginning of the seminar, opening addresses were given by representatives of the ITUC-NAC, the Nepalese Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Social Security (MOLESS), the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), and the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council (SARTUC), as well as by JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo. All these speakers referred to the significance and importance of holding the seminar at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was exerting a serious impact on economies and employment.
A message was also heard from Councilor Yuzo Yoshioka of the Japanese Embassy in Nepal, who said, “When we held an online introductory class on legal matters relating to business, 191 representatives of Japanese companies took part. This shows that even amid the impact of Covid-19, many Japanese companies are looking keenly toward Nepal. For these companies to engage in sound business, constructive industrial relations are essential. I hope that your activities will lead to the further development of economic relations between the two countries.”
Next, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Toshihiro Saito shared information on trends in the number of Covid-19 infected persons in Japan, trends in the employment and unemployment situation, measures to maintain jobs and prevent unemployment, and other topics. Then he went on to emphasize that precisely now, in these extremely difficult times when both workers and employers are suffering from the impact of Covid-19, constructive industrial relations were necessary, as well as social dialogue to adopt support measures for the whole Nepalese nation, including labour and management.
Next, Dr. Bisuo Paudel of Kathmandu University, an economist, pointed out that after the lockdown ordered in Nepal in late March 2020, small and medium-sized enterprises and the self-employed in particular had suffered from the impact, and many socially vulnerable people had seen their incomes decline further or had lost their jobs. Nevertheless, he said, no support measures had been implemented. He stressed the importance of the early realization of measures to create new jobs in the construction industry and online businesses and of positive fiscal spending measures to revitalize the economy.
Furthermore, General Secretary Yogendra Kumar Kunwar of the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) called for the steady introduction of vocational training, low-interest loans for young people starting up businesses, and other measures by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), which has been launched by the government. He also said that trade unions should come together and propose to the government, among other things, (1) the implementation of effective social dialogue among interested parties, (2) the inclusion of informal workers and the self-employed in the social security system, (3) the introduction of an unemployment insurance system, (4) the application of the health insurance system to the families of workers, and (5) the implementation of a registration system for informal workers and the self-employed at the regional government level.
In the closing ceremony, JILAF President Nagumo said that “I hope the three organizations belonging to the ITUC-NAC further strengthen their coordination and engage in activities that are widely recognized by society,” and NTUC Acting President Mahendra Prasad Yadav expressed gratitude for having been able to hold a fruitful seminar thanks to JILAF’s cooperation.