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Workshop on Advance Trade Union Education and workers agenda in New Constitution

Organised by TWARO

13 -14 and 15-16 June, 2009
Ashoka Hotel, Bagbazara, Kathmandu


Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nepal Office in association with TWARO Council Nepal organised workshops on advance trade union education (13th - 14th June, 2009) and workers agenda in new constitution (15-16th June, 2009) in Kathmandu. In both the workshop majority of the participants came from outside of Kathmandu valley. There were 40 participants for the first seminar out of which 19 participants were women. Likewise, there were 30 participants (who came from different parts of the country) for the second seminar out of which 14 were women participants. The participants came from different sectors such as garments, spinning, cement, and embroidery and leather industries. Participants, mostly, were the leaders of the Trade Unions in the local organisations affiliated either with GEFONT or with NTUCI-I who had already attended the basic trade union education.

The main thrust of this seminar was to develop leadership skills and provide advance level trade union education within the rapidly changing political scenario of the country. Participants were trained on current situations of the trade unions, economy and state of factories/industries in the country. By and large they were taught on the overall situation of workers in Nepal. The programme was aimed to train trade unionists on the constitutional issues and strategy to include the issues of workers in the upcoming constitution of Nepal. The whole idea of this seminar was to improve working environment of the workers so that every Nepali worker could live with a dignified life?

The Proceedings

The workshop covered various issues such as ILO and Core Convention, conditions of workers in Nepal and strategy, future strategy of trade union, constitution and trade union, concept of JTUCC in new constitution and women workers agenda in the upcoming constitution. The training sessions were conducted by Mr Kashi Raj Dahal (on constitution) Ms. Pemba Lama (on ILO and Core Convention), Mr Umesh Badal on the concept of JTUCC in new constitution, Ms Rachhu Nembang on women workers agenda in new constitution, Mr T.P. Khanal discussed about decent work and Chandra D. Bhatta on condition of workers in Nepal and strategy to improve. Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES in Nepal spoke about the challenges of social transformation. He said that unless and until we bridge the gap between capital and labour there is now way that we can have workers rights fully ensured. For that it is important to upscale the national economy as it plays a vital role to connect state and society. He also said that industrialisation is necessary for this as it creates employment opportunities in the country. For this to happen state should come up with policies that can help to generate employment opportunity in the country. We are in the constitution writing process and it is the right time for trade unions to involve in this process.

Mr Kashi Raj Dahal highlighted various issues related with workers and explained how they could be incorporated in the upcoming constitution. He said that it is extremely important that the issues be included know so that know body can play with the future of the workers in Nepal.

Mr. Umesh Upahdyay General Secretary of GEFONT has said that trade unions should work together to intervene in the state polices. He said that trade unions should work for change, prosperity and social security of the workers. He said that labour force is the biggest force and they should be included at the different layers of the state mechanism (from VDCs to the national parliament) and involvement of trade union representative during the policy making process is vital. This practice has not been initiated in Nepal. In most of the time only employer and the government alone decide the fate of the workers. Likewise, Mr Achyut Pandey from NTUCI - and CA member said that trade union should be education be befitting so that issues of the workers are addressed fairly. Ms. Shanti Jirel, CA member, said that trade union should not follow political parties; in contrast, they should work for the broader welfare of the worker.

The programme was also attended by the Constituent Assembly member and General Secretary of NTUCI - Mr. Achyut Raj Pandey, Mr Umesh Upadhyay - General Secretary of GEFONT and Ms . Shanti Jireal, Constituent Assembly member (who also actively participated in the two days programme).

Majority of the questions raised during the technical sessions were based on the issues related to social security, job guarantee, sufficient, sufficient wages to live a decent life, equal pay for equal job, labour commission, ID Card, appointment letter. Many participants were of the view that trade unions have been used by political parties to meet their interests. They have said that trade union leaders and the employer in many occasions get very closer which jeopardizes the interest of the labour. For social security, they have demanded some sort of national insurance policy for labour should be thought of and registration of workers is important for this.

World Bank and other multinational companies are asking for flexible labour and the recent recommendation submitted by the Chambers of Commerce to the Constitution Committee is that they have demanded for the ban on the trade union. Labour act should protect the interest of investors as well as that of workers.


Politics is in transition trade unions are also in trouble and because the weak state and government have not been able to force various laws. The current economic system and capital formation are tilted towards elites and do not support workers. Hence it is, crucially important to strike a balance between capital and labour. Workers issues have never gotten priority while writing constitution not only in Nepal but as a whole of South Asia workers have been ignored. State should stay neutral between capital and labour, but this has not been the case. Industrial peace is necessary and industrial peace will only prevail when there is economic development and healthy relationship between labour and employer both should view each other as share holders. Democratisaion of economic power is essential for this. This means the gap can only be maintained when policies are made in favour of poor in order to lift them out of poverty. Capital and production should be distributed on the basis of justice. In the context of Nepal both government and trade unions has remained mere spectator in front of the 'capitalist'. This is partly because political parties take heavy donations from 'industrialist' and trade union leaders are very close to political leaders as a result during the collective bargain they failed to strike a right deal that serves the interest of the labour. In many instances, industrialists threaten political leaders, trade unionist and workers to shut down the industry if they push hard on them. This has also become major problem for industrialisation in Nepal.

The first and foremost objective of trade union is to maintain the 'dignity' of the labour. Trade unions can only do so when they become free from political parties, state and the employer.

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