Narrative Report on Role of Trade Unions in
Constituent Assembly Election
Organised by Democratic
Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT)
1-2 March 2008, Kathmandu, Nepal
The political situation of the country is
in critical phase now. Recently, the government of Nepal has
declared the date of Constituent Assembly election on 10 April
2008 which had postponed twice earlier due to political differences
among the ruling seven party alliances (SPA). However, all political
parties now have shown their commitment towards the CA election
which will be a first of its kind in Nepal giving great opportunity
for the Nepalese people to elect their representatives to draft
a new constitution. The Election Commission (EC) has completed
all processes for the management of election and vigorously
engaged in providing civic and political knowledge to the voters
about the modality of CA.
At present, the Maoists have rejoined the
coalition government after the seven party's two point consensus
on the electoral system and declaration of a republic through
the legislative- parliament to be implemented it by the first
CA meeting. The EC has been collected candidates' nomination
for first past the post system and proportional electoral system.
Right this time different minority groups and professional associations
are pushing their voices and visions. Some ethnic groups and
non-state armed actors are using the methods of strike, terrorization
and extortion to fulfill their demands. In such a critical political
situation, the Nepalese workers are greatly affected. The strike
and bandhas in major industrial belts are greatly affecting
the life of workers and in such a chaos situation it has been
difficult for the trade unions to work in protecting labor rights.
Although this critical situation, government is successfully
engaging itself with various groups and has even signed agreements
to create conducive security environment for free and fair elections.
Nepalese workers at the factory levels are
still not fully equipped with necessary political knowledge,
issues and concerns about the CA elections. There is a need
to impart them knowledge that this election is different from
the periodic elections to shape a government. There also inclusive
measures adopted for CA. Socialization of workers about these
is a must for their informed participation and create their
stake in the future political process. What is good with the
workers is that they are very optimistic about its consequence-that
their voice, visibility and representation will be guaranteed
in the constitution-making process. Considering these facts,
as a responsible trade union, Democratic Confederation of Nepalese
Trade Unions (DECONT) organized a two-day seminar on "Role
of Trade Unions in CA Election' ' at Kathmandu on 1-2 March
2008. Altogether 414 (341 Male and 73 Female participants from
different level of union structure took part in the seminar
where renowned political analytics like Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal,
Mr. Khila Nath Dahal, and Mr. Rishav Dev Ghimire took part as
resource persons and former minister and Secretary General of
NC Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi addressed the opening ceremony of the
programme. Mr Khila Nath Dahal, Acting President, DECONT chaired
the opening and closing session of the program.
A brief inaugural ceremony was organized for
formal inauguration of the workshop and chief guest for the
ceremony was former minister and Secretary General of Nepali
Congress Party Bimalendra Nidhi. The program was chaired by
Brother Khila Nath Dahal, Acting President, and DECONT. Presented
at the occasion distinguished guests were Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal,
Mr. Rajendra Raut and other well-wisher of DECONT. Welcome speech
was delivered by Mr. Rishav Dev Ghimire. After that Mr. Kashi
Raj Dahal, Former minister Bimalendra Nidhi delivered the speech
about the Constituent Assembly and the role of trade unions.
At the last of the opening session brother Khila Nath Dahal
closed the inaugural session by raising the issues of workers
and workers representation and workers rights in the CA election.
After the inaugural session, a brief introduction
session was held where participants, guests and resource persons
introduced themselves on the basis of personal as well as organizational
background. Thereafter, formal workshop was started with overview
of the program which was facilitated by Rishav Dev Ghimire and
then the other session which was facilitated by Mr. Kashi Raj
Dahal on the topics "An introduction of Constituent Assembly
Election." While discussing on the theme he also put forward
few policy recommendations for CA election to the government
and role of workers-clarity on the nature of the head of state,
structure and framework of the state, subjects of democratic
state system and protection of special areas and interests.
After the presentation, an open discussion was held in which
30 participants took part. They raised the question as to how
the voice and experiences of workers can be reflected in the
The next session of the workshop was on '
Role and Responsibility of Trade Union (DECONT) in CA Election'
that was facilitated by Bro. Khila Nath Dahal where he described
about role of workers and the importance of their participation
in CA Election. Thereafter an open discussion was held where
35 participants raised their concerns on the CA election and
workers' place in the election. Participants raised questions
about the expansion of social rights, such as right to social
security, health, work, education, etc which were good but they
wanted to know whether there are laws and resources for the
realization of these rights. The Last session of the day was
facilitated by Mr. Krishana Poudyal on Constitutional assembly
and labor rights. In this session he pointed out needs of CA
election for the promotion and protection of labor rights.
Session of the next day was started with the
recapitulation of the first day activities to understand as
to whether participants had followed the messages and contents
discussed so far or not. After it, next session was started
on ' Constitutional Assembly Election and Workers' Participation"
which was facilitated by brother Mr. Khila Nath Dahal where
he discussed about how the workers play the role in CA election
and their informed participation. During the session he discussed
some examples of successful and unsuccessful CA election from
the international experiences and its international provisions.
He narrated how COSATU in South Africa become an important part
in the success of CA elections there and how the question of
capital and labor were debated and mediated. The other session
was facilitated by Mr. Kashi Raj Dahal on "Constitutional
Assembly and World Experiences". Mr. Dahal addressed how
we can enhance workers capacities to make successful CA election
in Nepal in the present political scenario. He shared international
experiences among the participants and compared it with provision
of CA election in interim constitution of Nepal. He presented
policies and organizing Strategies for CA election. Thereafter
an open discussion was held where 27 participants took part
sharing their experiences.
The last session of the workshop was on "Constitutional
assembly election and Workers' participation: Group work and
Presentation." In this session the participants presented
a model election process and workers participation. Resource
persons observed their activities and controlled them. They
also presented some national and international experiences of
trade unions in CA election. He presented the future Action
Plan of workers for that election on the behalf of the workers.
A brief closing session was held where Bro
Khila Nath Dahal, acting president of DECONT chaired the program
and other guests are also participated and addressed the program
about subject matters. Brother Dhrubha Chandra Gautam, Treasurer,
Mr. Radha Kant Deo, Vice President of DECONT deliberated the
speech on the behalf of the organizer and they emphasized that
CA election is an immense opportunity for trade unions. Similarly,
sister Rama Paudyal, women vice-president of DECONT and Sis.
Bimala Gaire, President of Agriculture Workers Union of Nepal
delivered the speech on behalf of participants. At last of the
program brother Dahal, chairman of DECONT closed the program
after his short remarks.