Dabur Nepal strike continues


Kathmandu : Two days before the celebration of the 60th year of India’s independence, one of its top FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) makers Monday remained shut in a labour dispute in Nepal, incurring a huge loss.

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Dabur Nepal, Dabur India’s wholly owned subsidiary in Nepal and one of the kingdom’s biggest exporters, was unable to resume operations at its factory in Birgunj town in southern Nepal after a group of seasonal workers supported by the Maoists went on strike Friday.

Nepal’s local media Monday said Dabur Nepal’s general manager, Sambarlal Malhotra, had warned the strikers that the company would be forced to wind up its Nepal operations if the factory was not re-opened within 15 days.

Officials here did not immediately confirm this.

“The strike is illegal,” a Dabur Nepal official told IANS. “According to Nepal’s labour law, strikers have to give the management a minimum notice period, which they have not.

“We are asking them to let work resume first and then discuss their demands.”

However, negotiations between the strikers, the management and mediators from the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce deadlocked Sunday night after Dabur Nepal asked workers to return to work and the latter refused to heed the call.

Supported by the Akhil Nepal Trade Union Federation (Revolutionary), 65 loaders, who are employed seasonally to load and unload goods when required, have closed down the factory since Friday morning demanding permanent employment.

Their six-point demand also includes higher pay.

“There are about 800 workers who are being held hostage by a fraction,” Dabur Nepal officials said.

Last year, the company had reported an annual turnover of Nepali Rs.3.5 billion despite the political turmoil and frequent shutdowns.

Earlier, Maoists had invaded Dabur Nepal’s greenhouse near Kathmandu, which is part of its corporate social responsibility projects and provides employment to a large number of local women.

The management shut the greenhouse after rebel cadres misbehaved with the workers. It was re-opened after intervention by local groups and government officials.

Nepal’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat had announced in his budget in July that an industrial security force would be established to provide security to threatened industries.

The Maoists had also signed an agreement with the government that they would not obstruct industries or demand money from them, as they had been wont to do during the 10-year communist insurgency.

The Indian consulate in Birgunj said it had no role in the negotiations, which were between the strikers and Dabur Nepal.