President of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions BISHNU RIMAL, who is currently a member of the Constituent Assembly from the CPN-UML, has been involved in Nepal’s trade union movement for a long time. Rimal spoke to New Spotlight on various issues in the movement.
Please share your views on the state of labourers in Nepal.
Nepal's labour market is a mismatch while comparing it with that of other countries. Here, we have a group of unskilled and underpaid people lacking job opportunities while there are others who are skilled, have a plenty of opportunities and are paid handsomely. But we have fewer job opportunities within the country which is perhaps why the people have to go abroad for jobs. Similarly, the labour law is there but, leaving some exceptions, its implementation aspect is weak. Ours is a poverty wage. Inflation is increasing while the salary and social security do not match the present day livelihoods. So, the overall situation is not satisfactory.
Is the present trade union movement in Nepal an outcome of political motives or a fight for the welfare of the labourers?
In recent days, it seems that many people affiliated to trade unions are here for political motives. But we are a bit far from the political motivation and indeed have focused on the wellbeing of labourers. And we condemn those who have used labourers for fulfilling their political needs.
Many say that CPN-UML's labourers are not satisfied and are changing unions swiftly. Is this true?
Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are relative terms. Yet, the present internal clash between the Maoist trade unions, which even resulted in physical assaults, and the modesty shown by the UML affiliated labourers is a testimony as to whose labourers are satisfied.
Why does your organisation always start negotiations calling a general strike? Don’t you have other ways?
We do lock up industries when industrialists refuse to fulfill our genuine demands. We are not paid without doing so. I agree we have weaknesses but industrialists too are not free from their weaknesses.
Are you a politician or a trade union worker?
I am a trade union worker. Of course, I am a member of CPN-UML but I always abide by the principle of labor. I have never mixed politics with labor the movement.