Pandemic threatens to upend labour relations


, May 20

, which was claimed to have improved in the recent years, especially after introduction of new Labour Act in 2017, has started deteriorating with the unfavourable circumstances brought on by the outbreak of coronavirus.

The entire has pretty much been at a standstill after the was imposed almost two months ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With most industries shut while the lockdown continues to be extended, employers have not only started reducing their workforce but also slashed the salary/wages of their staffers, which has hit the livelihood of both formal and informal sector workers.

Against the direction of the government to industries to issue full to workers throughout the lockdown period, the (FNCCI) — the largest umbrella body representing the private sector — has already notified the government that businesses will not be able to pay more than 50 per cent of the monthly salary to workers during this period.

Meanwhile, Hotel Association of — the representative body of tourist standard hotels in the country — has already declared that hotels across the country will be shut till November and merely 12.5 per cent of the workers’ basic monthly salary will be paid till then.

Workers in the country have expressed outrage and said such moves threaten to regress the employer-employee
relationships. Representatives of different trade unions have said that decisions of industries and businesses to reduce workers’ salary and cut down staffers are unacceptable as these decisions were taken unilaterally.

Puskar Acharya, president of Nepal Trade Union Congress, said that the unilateral decisions on salary payments and staff cuts taken by the industries have started to adversely affect their cordial relationship with workers.

“Thousands of workers are risking their lives so that various industries can operate partially,” said Acharya, adding, “In such a context, unilateral decisions of industries related to workers can have lasting negative effects.”

Meanwhile, Ramesh Badal, vice president of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (), said that employer-employee conflict is natural during such crises. “However, both parties should come together for an amicable

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