Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Nepal

Address at opening ceremony by JILAF Secretary General Ryo Saito

JILAF held a two-day seminar on industrial relations and labour policy in Kathmandu on December 4–5 together with the Nepal Affiliate Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-NAC), which comprises the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), and the All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF). The seminar was attended by 62 officials and leaders of trade unions under the ITUC-NAC.

At the opening ceremony, addresses were given by Vice-President Chandra Dhakal of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Secretary Binod KC of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, and Social Security (MOLESS), and representatives of the national centers, all of whom expressed their gratitude to the Japanese government and JILAF for their continued support and cooperation.

Speaking on behalf of the organizers, JILAF Secretary General Ryo Saito mentioned the significance of the seminar, which brought together the three Nepalese organizations affiliated with the ITUC, and thanked everyone who had worked so hard to prepare for the event. He also explained the purpose of the seminar, which aimed to avoid needless industrial disputes and achieve job stability through the building of constructive industrial relations, thereby contributing toward the achievement of goal number eight of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (“Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all”).

In addition, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Masamichi Saigo of the Embassy of Japan in Nepal expressed profound respect for the fact that the experience and knowledge that JILAF had accumulated over three decades in Nepal and its sustained development of projects had contributed significantly to people’s lives and social and economic development. “This year,” he said, “the number of consultations from Japanese companies considering investing or setting up operations in Nepal has reached 95 companies. The soundness of industrial relations is extremely important for Japanese companies thinking of doing business in Nepal. I have great expectations of this two-day industrial relations and labour policy seminar.”

JILAF Secretary General Saito then gave a lecture in which he remarked that at a time when bilateral relations between Japan and Nepal are being further strengthened, for example through the conclusion of memorandums on cooperation relating to the acceptance of foreign workers in March and October 2019, “The sustained economic development of Nepal, which is located between the countries of South Asia and China, is important not only for the peace and stability of the region as a whole but also for Japan.” He went on to talk about the prevention of needless industrial disputes and achievement of job stability through constructive industrial relations, describing the Japanese model nurtured by labour and management over many years in which labour and management settle workplace issues on the basis of labour-management equality and autonomy through confrontation in negotiations and cooperation in labour-management consultations based on relations of trust between labour and management.

On the second day, lectures were given by NTUC Deputy General Secretary Ganesh Bahadur KC on collective bargaining and labour-management dialogue under the new labour law, industrial relations and the role of trade unions in Nepal, and social security issues in Nepal, such as the strong resistance to the 20% burden on employers for health insurance and so on, the low subscription to the social security fund system, and the inability of Indian workers in Nepal and informal-sector workers to join, and by NTUC Senior Vice-President Mahendra Prasad Yadav on the importance of social dialogue. In particular, NTUC Deputy General Secretary Ganesh Bahadur KC praised Japanese-style industrial relations, which, unlike Western-style industrial relations based on industrial-level labour-management relations, are based on company-level labour-management relations. He again emphasized the need to build trustworthy relations between labour and management through contributions to productivity improvement and, on the foundation of such relations, to build win-win relations between labour and management.

The participants then compiled action plans on the theme of “How to improve industrial relations in Nepal and how to protect workers and the public through effective efforts of the social security law. In their plenary presentations, in addition to shared opinions on the importance of building relations of trust, not hostility, between labour and management born from an attitude of mutual respect and the importance over everything else of the government, labour, and management fulfilling their respective responsibilities and roles in steadily implementing the social security law, the participants made such proposals as (1) the need for employers to change their attitude toward trade unions and workers as a whole (“Labour is not a commodity”); (2) prohibition of harassment toward women and forced labour; (3) the protection of informal-sector and outsourcing workers; and (4) the need for compliance with the minimum wage of 13,450 rupees per month/517 rupees per day. These proposals were discussed by the participants as a whole.

In the closing ceremony, JILAF Secretary General Ryo Saito expressed his gratitude to the participants for their enthusiastic participation and ended the two-day seminar by saying that “JILAF will continue its efforts to cooperate so that Nepal overcomes the various issues and challenges facing it and becomes an even better country for workers and ordinary people.”

Schedule

DateContents
12/04WedSeminar day 1 (venue: Kathmandu)
12/05ThuSeminar day 2 (venue: Kathmandu)

Photos of the Participants

Address by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Masamichi Saigo

Group photo of the participants

JILAF lecture on “Japanese Trade Unions: Issues and Role”

Group discussions

Group presentation