Plan of Action for 2009-2013
GEFONT IN ACTION
The tenure ahead of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) will be marked by two highly significant tasks: reform of the labour market and social transformation. GEFONT has to play a crucial role in organisational strengthening, empowerment of the workers by enhancing their ideological awareness and in various aspects of policy interventions. At this historic moment of reconstruction and transformation of the state, society and economy, GEFONT is also expected to take a decisive lead in materialising the principle of working class unity and the campaign of single unionism.
GEFONT has long been at the forefront of the trade union movement of the country. To the movement, it has always given a new direction, energy and velocity. It is firmly committed to socialism with a clear-cut mission to start a new era, an era that ensures prosperity and dignity to the life of the working class. As such, the following plan of action has been proposed as an amalgamation of regular and special activities, which cumulatively aim at addressing the immediate needs of the working class as well as contributing to the goal of prosperous life with dignified work and prosperity.
1. Unity for Transformation: Special Campaign
'Lokatantric republic’ is the system of our governance. In this two-word formulation, lokatantra refers to a political framework, a boundary outline, ratified by the sovereign people. And republic is the form of government elected by the people from amongst them within the framework of lokatantra. Nepal has just instituted this form of government. The task ahead is to institutionalise it. This is – institutionalisation of lokatantric republic – the first and primary responsibility of GEFONT in its tenure ahead.
Central to GEFONT campaign are the establishment, through new constitution, of participatory and inclusive lokatantra with economic and social rights; creation of federal states based on our own originality; establishment of equity-based state structures in a class framework by eliminating all forms of economic exploitations; and, eradication of all forms of social oppressions, such as gender, caste-ethnicity, linguistic and religious discriminations. Under this campaign will fall following initiatives:
- Training and education campaigns at the committees under the newly formed Union Councils and GEFONT to ensure effective participation of the working class in the process of transformation
- Continuity of the ongoing collaboration of political parties to intensify the participation of the working class in constitution making
- Increased dialogues and interactions with Constituent Assembly, CA members and the government
2. Organisation Building, Expansion and Mobilisation of Workers
a. This Congress has made amendment in the existing structure of GEFONT. The restructuring of the state will necessitate some new structures at various levels, which will require restructuring of GEFONT structures as well. In the light of this, the following has been proposed in the context of organisation building:
- Organisation-management, as per a new structure, at the local level and special campaigns on organisation restructuring and mobilisation in yet-to-be-formed federal structures
- Adopt the policy of (a) further strengthening and mobilising existing unions in formal economy, and (b) implementing sector-specific activities and membership expansion in both agricultural and non-agricultural informal economy, focusing on amongst workers in agricultural, construction and street vendors.
- Enhance social image of the trade union movement by mobilising workers in special days
- Mobilise workers both at local and national levels to resolve grievances including issues of decent work and fair wages, through Central Union Council of members organised under different affiliates
b. Establishment and Operation of the GEFONT Veterans' Network: Senior unionists who have for long been active in Nepal’s trade union movement as well as in establishment of GEFONT deserve due respect and appreciation. The movement continues to need their advice and guidance in the days ahead. To this end, the Congress has decided to establish GEFONT Veterans' Network to bring together senior unionists in honour of what they have done in the past as well to respectfully mobilise their wisdom and skills to benefit the movement in future.
c. Expansion of Community Workers' Club: The unions established at the workplace and enterprises only represent a side of the emotional unity of workers. Their nature and place of work is different, and they belong to different enterprises. However, these workers reside in the same area and locality. In the union formation and mobilisation exercises to date, the workers are left to stay separately and non-united in the community they live. This has kept the alliance of the union movement loose. The ‘community workers' club’ will, on this backdrop, further expand the practice of ‘workplace and community based committees’ in order to unite the workers also in areas they live.
3. Intensified Campaign of Social Protection:We hold that the employers’ demand of ‘hire and fire’ and labour flexibilities should be balanced with social security measures, such as pension, provident fund, insurance, including health insurance, education allowance for the family of the workers, and unemployment benefit, among others. To materialise this, the following will be done:
- Campaign for an integrated social security fund while disseminating, advocating and lobbying for other 9 aspects of social security
- Consolidate and continue with ‘micro- health insurance’ schemes
- Mobilise workers to raise awareness on workplace safety, occupational safety and health, and, thus, to protect workers from occupational hazards and diseases. Implement various constructive pressure-campaigns to use the funds deposited at the National Welfare Fund in favour of the workers
- The situation of women’s health is heart-rending, and the sufferers from the situation are in the thousands. With the aim of providing some relief to the suffering sisters, GEFONT has established a Working Women Assistance Fund, and has started providing medical support to the concerned after the Fourth Congress. This Fund will be strengthened & mobilised and as an emergency relief fund, a new scheme will be launched in this tenure for all GEFONT members
4. Programme of Women’s Leadership Development and Gender Equality:
The state has, policy-wise and constitutionally, established women’s right to inheritance and descent. All discriminatory laws have accordingly been annulled, a law enacted against violence against women and at least one-third representation of women made mandatory in all organs of the state and society. It is, thus, mandatory to have one-third participation of women in all sectors of employment, with rights, benefits, respect and payments equal to male counterparts. In this respect, a policy has been proposed to form a GEFONT Women’s Committee to replace the Central Women Workers Department formed in 1992, and include all members of the Committee as ex-officio member of GEFONT National Executive Committee. The Committee will implement various activities, including committee formation and mobilisation, to expand and intensify the campaign of gender equality.
5. Campaign for Single Unionism:
It is a long felt necessity that there should be a unified campaign that mobilises all workers at all levels to build an integrated movement for workers’ rights and welfares. For this, the slogan of ‘one union, one voice’ should be further amplified. GEFONT has, for the last 7 years, been an active promoter of the ‘one union’ campaign.. To make the campaign more effective, a set of joint programmes will be developed on the basis of a common code of conduct. The programmes will focus on institutionalising the Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre (JTUCC)
6. Labour Law and Labour Commission:
The government of Nepal has started the process of reform in existing labour legislation to make laws relevant to the present context. The proposed law should, as per the principle of ‘one act multiple rules’, cover all workers, irrespective of whether they are organised or unorganised, whether they are in formal or informal sectors, and whether they belong to private-joint ventures or industries operated through national-multinational investments.
Similarly, as provided for in the Interim Constitution, a tripartite effort is being made to form a National Labour Commission. In this respect, efforts should be made to ensure that the Commission is independent and powerful, enjoys the authority of a quasi-judicial body and has the aim of ensuring swift and easy justice to the workers in relation to labour disputes.
7. International Relations and Foreign Employment:Under this the following will be done.
a. Continue the ongoing campaign for the formation of ‘One International Centre’ to build ‘unity’ out of the ‘diversity’ now prevailing in the world trade union movement. Such unity would be based on the principle of ‘plurality’ and ‘diversity’. GEFONT to initiate active efforts to make it’s role effective in ITUC and Take necessary measures to expand the role of GEFONT-affiliated unions in the Global Union Federations.
b. The government of Nepal has entered into labour agreements with various countries with a view to increasing the scope of foreign employment. GEFONT will organise necessary campaigns, including awareness raising events, to ensure that labour migration for this purpose is safe and secure, and that all workers are paid and treated as stipulated in the agreement.
- Efforts will be made to increase the role of diplomatic missions to promote the welfare of migrant Nepali workers
- Formation of GEFONT support group to organise migrant Nepali workers
- Expansion and establishment of bi-lateral relations with trade union centres in destination countries
- Implementation of various awareness programmes targeted to migrant workers
8. Youth Participation in Union Movement:Under the theme of ‘youths in social service’ the following will be done under this:
- Holding of a national youth labour conference
- Formation of youth committees in various structure of GEFONT
- Formation of youth committees in each level of affiliates
- Implementation of creative extra-curricular activities for mobilisation of youths who are in employment
9. Research, Publication and Dissemination:The following will be focused on under this theme.
- Undertake research on various issues of concerns of the workers, and publish their findings
- Regularly publish the following:
-Shramik Khabar (Labour News)
-Trade Union Rights
-Shramik Mahila (Women Workers)
-Other publications those necessary for labour education as well as
- Use of web-site, audio-video and print media for dissemination
- Regular interaction with news media
- Regular update of GEFONT’s dissemination media
10. Economic Self-Reliance Programme
- Development and implementation of mechanisms to collect membership fees and thus to make the members’ contribution effective
- Take active measures to generate sustainable incomes through the special committee on Investment Management and Promotion