Kathmandu, the ninth meeting of the GEFONT Congress delegates Council of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) has been held on dated 16 August 2021. The meeting was carried out as a hybrid form where members of the delegate’s council from different parts of the country attended virtually. National Committee members from the capital who were available had assembled collectively at the Trade Union School, Anamnagar.
While speaking at the meeting, GEFONT chairman Binod Shrestha said that GEFONT has believed in the people’s multi-party democracy as its political ideology. He added that this was made clear at the last meeting of the council of representation and GEONT believed in the conviction of political and political leadership that should be attainable in accordance with initiative, competition and superiority. Chairman Shrestha further added that if political and political leadership are not attained for any reason, GEFONT is adamant on the belief of pursuing transitional leadership only through periodic general conventions and elections and dismiss the juvenile practice of changing political leadership in another way other than the legitimate election.
Similarly, after the formation of the NCP by uniting two parties, allies of Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) hatched a plot to capture the party and dismantled the movement instead of serving towards the interest of working people and in regards to this matter, Chairman has expressed that the dissolution of the house of representatives on December 20, 2020, was an outcome of the disagreement of erstwhile Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. He said that GEFONT has considered the dissolution of the House of Representatives a deterrent step to fail Prachanda-led conspirator of taking over the party, political power and taking towards autocracy.
GEFONT is of the view that NCP has become mainstream of the NCP (UML) since as many people from the Maoist Movement have accepted UML despite the hasty decision of the Prachanda to revive the central committee of erstwhile UML (Moist) following the ruling of the Supreme Court on February 19. Chairman has mentioned that in the meantime, some leaders of the CPN-UML while siding with another party Chairman, Prachanda have kicked off the saga of vandalism and the disgusting intra-party factionalism. He further said that due to the factionalism, the NCP-UML government had to crumble and the Congress Party leader who didn’t even dream of forging a government throughout this tenure dramatically became Prime Minister. GEFONT thoroughly denounced the alleged statement which considers that it is democratic to overthrow its own government by sacking its party leader from Prime Minister Ship and proudly make the party leader a prime minister who competes in the election as an opponent.
Chairman stated that question has arisen over the conclusion of pursued revolution in the political sense following the promulgation of the constitution, GEFONT is of the view that the revolution would change the class base, relation of production and although state bodies function under the mandates in case of Nepal supreme order seems to subdue mandate. GEFONT has stated that achievements have been taking away through litigation instead of institutionalizing.
Speaking on contemporary issues, GEFONT Chairman Shrestha said that today’s task is to bring back democracy in the league. GEFONT mentioned that hardly-earned political stability through the mandate of the last election has now turned into political instability, which prompted a situation to resurrect the movement in order to consolidate democracy for the prosperous working class. GEFONT stated that it is all geared up to pay any price for Democracy and Progress, has urged its member to be watchful to ensure periodically held elections under any pretext.
Speaking on the labour market reform, Chairman Shrestha said that KP Sharma -led government has increased the minimum wage by twice for workers from 9,700 to 15,000. Stating that increment in the wage by 55 per cent in the last three years is historic but there is apparent problems such as cut off and non-payment wages under the pretext of COVID-19, so GEFONT has expressed that labour audit should be made effective.
Chairman Shrestha said that regardless of the establishment of social security program in the state, the employers and self-proclaimed intellectuals who were complicit in the exploitation of workers to fulfill their self-interest have been opposing the socialist-oriented economy all along and have indulged vigorously to destroy the system. GEFONT explained that due to the instigation of leadership, some unions who envisioned their future in colluding with employers have filed cases against the Social Security system and even judiciary being used as a tool to sabotage this system.
The meeting has concluded that GEFONT will launch a coercive crusade to implement social security effectively. The meeting has further decided that effective leadership would be manifest by the federation in conducting legal action against employers who are not listed and do not contribute to the fund and implementing the system of first entering the labour market with a social security number. Similarly, GEFONT is of the view that in order to bring the informal sector under the purview of social security, the working procedure should be amended to formulate contribution-based social security.
The meeting has also passed the contemporary proposal presented by GEFONT Vice-president Bidur Karki. While presenting the proposal at the meeting, Vice-president Bidur Karki said that workers from the sector such as hotels, tourism, transport, construction, home workers, auto mechanics, beautician, self-employment are adversely affected by COVID-19, and has demanded the government to ensure the workers’ employment and guarantee in employment. He even put forth the demand for immediate vaccine rollout to all the workers, relief to the family of COVID-19 fatalities and free treatment of Covid patients.
The meeting said that informal and self-employed workers are deprived of various facilities given by the state and demanded to make an arrangement for registration in contribution-based social security through documentation and authentication. It has demanded meeting with the government to ensure the contribution of deprived workers and to make necessary arrangements for documentation and verification by installing labour desks at every municipal level.
Stating that the structure of labour administer has not changed so far despite the restructuring of the state which deprived the worker of accessing labour administration, the meeting demanded to make necessary arrangements for consolidating and coordination of federal, state and municipal level government for capacity building in the pursuance of worker’s access.
The meeting has also strongly demanded the implementation of the minimum wage set by the government. GEFONT demanded the execution of the labour Act Law from all sectors and stringent prosecution against the establishment who defy the Labour Act, misinterpret the labour law and compulsory labour audit.
GEFONT made an appeal to establish the rule of law by introducing a requisite provision for the execution of contribution-based social security as rules of the state cannot obey voluntarily. GEFONT demanded the end of the exploitation under name of outsourcing, contract and trainee labour and pleaded to encompass everyone under the blanket of the labour act and provide facilities accordingly. Similarly, GEFONT has also demanded their participation in contribution-based social security.
Moreover, GEFONT appealed to make necessary arrangements in order to ensure the right to vote for migrant workers. Likewise, the meeting has drawn heed from the Nepali mission to solve the problem of migrant workers with priority. Presenting the proposal at the meeting, Vice-president Karki also demanded to make arrangements to discard the implementation of bonus law from the establishments that are reluctant to implement the Labour Act. He continued with additional demand for collective bargaining agent election based on industry groups through. He also demanded to making amendments in the contemporary Trade Union Act. The meeting has endorsed a proposal on contemporary issues.
Similarly, Vice-president Gunaram Acharya presented the annual budget of GEFONT for the fiscal year of B.S 2078/79. He gave an accord of an estimated budget of Rs 33.5 million. The meeting has approved the budget of income and expenditure that showed up under titles including membership fee, investment income, levy and miscellaneous. Vive-president Acharya informed that considering the impact of COVID-19 on a collection of membership fairs last year, some spending constraints have been set for this year.
Secretary-General Janak Chaudhary presented the report of completed work of past year in the meeting. He further informed that due to contagious COVID-19 it was challenging to operate the activities on daily basis however despite the adversity the expansion and renewal of membership were continued. He opined that renewal of membership along with expansion is immensely prominent to organize because this mechanism demonstrates the belief, maturity of faith and integrity of people towards the organization. He said that since the power dynamic of the organization lies in the number of its members, so these dynamics should always be strengthened and organized.
Secretary-General Chaudhary informed that according to the objectives of rewarding good performance and discouraging bad performance, Gandaki Pradesh GEFONT Organization committee would be awarded from the magnificent committee of the year for keeping a systematic record of renewal and expansion of membership by mid-July 2078 B.S. He also said that the awarding will always be perpetuated.
Stating that the main body of organizations that build and mobilize power is the committee structure, General Secretary Chaudhary added that the union will reach out among workers if the committee is active and organized. He further added the importance of keeping a systematic record of the committee because the local committee would be the first school for workers and members to obtain primary knowledge about the union. Stating that the number of committees should not be limited in the assessment, he opined that the expansion of committees of every union and GEFONT should be seen in the facts. At present, the total number of GEFONT municipal committees is 154 and the subordinate committee number of member unions is 3110 with a total figure is 3264 and GEFONT has expanded its reach to 70 districts, informed General-Secretary Janak Chaudhary.
GEFONT has affirmed that NTUC needs to make public its views on the issue stating that Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and allied financial sector union (FUN) is leading as a hypocrite to full its self-interest under the planned conspiracy against the social security system. Meanwhile, Social Security Fund has taken action against some establishments that deduct money from the worker’s wage but have not deposit money in the fund, said Janak Chaudhary.
The organizational report presented by General- Secretary Janak Chaudhary covers the important work done in the last year. The meeting simultaneously endorsed the report including work done by GEFONT.
While speaking as a guest in the inaugural session of the meeting, Richard Howard, Country Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that there has been continuous partnership on important work between ILO and GEFONT. He expressed his belief by stating GEFONT would decide the work according to the requirements of the Labour market by discussing virtually with its members across the country. He also informed that the ILO is ready to cooperate with GEFONT in the coming days as it did in the past. He affirmed that there are some challenges for the implementation of the social security program, for that matter, ILO Nepal Office has been providing technical assistance to the fund.
Members from representative's council all over the country virtually participate in the Meeting. The queries raised from participants were explicated by officials who presented the report including Chairman Binod Shrestha. The meeting was concluded with the endorsement of the proposal for the upcoming work.