KATHMANDU, Sept 27: Shikhar Shoes Industry, one of the leading domestic footwear producers that has remained closed for the past 16 days following a labor strike, has said that it cannot address the agitating workers´ demands.
The company management even billed the strike of the workers as illegal.
"There are procedures to exercise collective bargain. But in our case the workers placed a 17-point demand and brought productions to a halt after three days," said Ram Krishna Prasai, managing director of Shikhar Shoes.
Going by the existing laws, the workers first need to submit a memorandum, informing the management about their demands, giving it at least three weeks for consideration. They should also engage in talks with the management. If talks failed, they can then issue an ultimatum for strike, giving the management a 30-day deadline to rethink its stance.“
"However, workers affiliated to the All Nepal Industrial Trade Union-Revolutionary (ANITU-R) launched the strike without following the rule in our company," said Prasai. He said he has questioned the legality of the strike in a letter submitted to the District Administration Office (DAO) last week.
The concern of the company is not just limited to the legal procedures. Prasai said he has been refusing to fulfill their demands as they are unreasonable. However, the agitating trade union has maintained that its demands are genuine.
Among others, agitating workers have demanded 50 percent hike in basic salary. They have also demanded that the company bear 50 percent cost of their children´s education.
"We are simply not in a position to hike salaries. We cannot afford it," Prasai said.
Speaking at a press meet organized by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Prasai, however, said that he was ready to address other genuine issues raised by the workers.
"We are eager to hold talks with the workers and fix the problems," Prasai said.
FNCCI, the apex business body, also echoed the management´s views. "The demands of the workers should come through a process. Activities of the workers that force company´s closure need not be addressed," Bhaskar Raj Rajkarnikar, senior vice-president of FNCCI, said.