Kathmandu: The General Federation of Nepalese Trade Union (GEFONT) commemorated “May Day” by holding events across the country, including in the capital Kathmandu. CPN-UML Chairperson KP Sharma Oli as the chief guest addressed the meeting at Bhrikuti Mandap in Kathmandu.
Chairman Oli said at the event that there are no competitors for CPN-UML to compete in the upcoming local level election in Kathmandu Valley. He claimed that CPN-UML candidate Keshav Sthapit has past experience and plans for the future while deputy mayoral candidate Sunita has a wide range of skills and that the voter is aware of this and votes in the sun. “It is vital to develop Kathmandu Valley as a city that represents the history and shines modernity,” he continued, “Keshav is a deserving candidate for that”.
Chairman Oli recalled that GEFONT has established a reputation for Nepal in the International arena, noting that the International Labor Organization and others have lauded GEFONT and its leadership. He remarked that GEFONT’s role through collective bargaining is critical in establishing workers’ rights by regulating Nepal’s labor sector. According to him, GEFONT has taken the lead in unifying trade unions in order to preserve and promote collective interest.
Chairman Oli went on to say that GEFONT has a long history of pushing for equal pay for women workers and a decent living wage for all workers in Nepal. He claimed that the labor movement provided the framework for Nepal’s political movement while explaining the brief history of May Day. UML Chairman Oli recounted Manmohan Adhikari’s labor movement in Biratnagar in 2003 BS, saying that the Nepalese working class has become more organized since then.
Speaking at the event, Keshav Sthapit, the CPNP-UML mayoral candidate in Kathmandu metropolitan, said that his ancestors’ profession was craftsmanship and pledged to perform all the work for the workers. He proposed that efforts be made to eliminate corruption, establish specific projects works for Dalits, Indigenous, workers, and provide prompt service to service recipients. Sthapit reiterated that there will be no missteps if he becomes mayor, and that city will move forward by partnering with all parties.
Sunity Dangol, the CPN-deputy UML’s mayoral candidate in Kathmandu Metropolitan City, spoke at the event and pledged to fight discrimination and injustice against workers. She stated that the municipality will also work to create jobs, and she asked voters to elect candidates who hoist the sun flag.
At the event, Richard Howard, the Internation Labor Organization’s(ILO) country director in Nepal, expressed his happiness at seeing so many young people involved in the trade union movement in Nepal. He stated that trade unions and democracy are both progressing in the same direction which will benefit the working class. He believes that work should be dignified and that social security should function properly.
According to Ram Chandra Shanghai, President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Employers’ Council, Nepal’s labor relations have been good for the past few years. He said that labor-related issues are on the decline and that the overall labor market has improved.
GEFONT President Binod Shrestha spoke on behalf of the organization, saying that only democracy can provide prosperity to workers’ lives. He also stated GEFONT’s focus will now be on achieving Nepal’s national goals of prosperous Nepal and happy Nepalis. While explaining the differences between movements for democracy and movements within a democracy, he stated that they have been working hard to improve workers’ economic and social status as well as their political access through social dialogue and collective bargaining.
Shrestha stated that contribution-based social security is a fundamental right of all workers, but that millions of workers remain outside of the scope of social security. He said that workers were deprived of social security benefits because the employers did not list them and did not deposit the contribution amount in the fund.
He claimed that some people are deliberately undermining the social security system at the best of some Bank management. Shrestha remarked that the illusion that workers’ benefits will be curtailed when they join social security is untrue and that the contribution-based social security system will make the labor market orderly and dignified in the long run.
In the event, some GEFONT people who had previously joined different trade unions have rejoined the GEFONT. They were welcomed by GEFONT Patron Bishnu Rimal and President Binod Shrestha. Similarly, some establishments’ unions were also incorporated. The event included musical performances as well.