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Nepal Must Institutionalize System of Dialogue to Address Labour Disputes

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An Outlook from Practical Perspective of Nepal
Dilemma on Dialogue and Negotiation in Labour Issue


Globally, Nepal has recognized as one of the most terrible country in terms of maintaining systematic labour relation and administration because the areas has remained full of conflict and pandemonium since its envenom politicization. Here politicization means amateurish unionization of employers and employees. In Nepal, we found majority of labour and employers are self- claimed warhorse politicians and profounder of existing democracy and shamelessly claimed themselves as a pillar of political and socioeconomic transformational actors of the country which is a big unfortunate. Sadly, they are overestimated by themselves.

Therefore, it is difficult to find the pure labour and employers in accordance with norms and standards defined by authorities and governance. The most of the employers and employees are either unaware or just ignore about their duties, responsibilities, obligation and morality. Moreover, huge gaps in bearing duties, responsibility, accountability and moralities among the tripartite (labour, employer, and government) stakeholders are considered as other complex issues in Nepal to have good labour relation.

Sadly, Labour, Employers and Government use to see each other as an adversary actor into practice in Nepal. They often involve and guided by win-lose game, consequently each of the actors equally and periodically victimized or benefited as per their political strength respectively. Of course, political vested interest, policy corruption and contemporary transitional issue and polarization among political parties and societies are emerged as major issues in critical siltation of labour relation affairs of Nepal.

It is well-known that the country is passing through an unmalleable transition, so governance and government are weaker that helps budding impunity in every sector including labour affair of Nepal. The both employers and labour group feel that they can achieve anything by using tools and approaches of impunity or say hoo-hah. There is also lacking manner and way in extending their demands and need from respective partner. Most of the demand and agendas of struggles or protest comes through window. Union or umbrella organization of employers or employees are no more work as genuine union and do not pay proper concern in their established motto and goal, but they are became like a sister or gangster organization of a particular political parties or communities, even though most of them suffering insides with various fractions, inter-inter severe conflicts etc. In these conditions, government is not properly practicing effective and efficient model of dialogue and negotiation to address the ongoing diverse issues of labour relation in Nepal. It is painful to see the practicing model and approach of dialogue and negotiation are remained outdated and expired that brings nothing except sustainable and structured fractions, conflict and anxiousness in labour management affairs of Nepal.

Personally, I have realized and observed, there are several reasons exist that cause often failure of dialogue and negotiation (DAN) in local to central level on labour issues in Nepal. The major points are (a) impunity and outlawed way of appearance by unions and employees representatives in the table (b) Politicization and polarization of their vested interest ignoring the proper agenda of labour or employers scope, rights, duties and privilege (c) Poor coordination, homework, simulation among the representative on specific issues (d) Absence of right time, right place, right issue, right way, right representative and right authority (7R) (e) Crisis of legitimacy and legacy to address the emerged or discussed issues (f) Undefined and imbalance roadmap in handling dialogue and negotiation (g) Unwanted pressure and unavoidable influence from stakeholders sitting out the room (f) Crisis of accountability and creditability among stakeholders in DAN (g) Poor resources, uncertainty and "hit and miss" institutionalization of DAN (g) Inter ministerial connected controversial issues comes with high insensitivity without proper channels and preparation (f) Poor institutional memory bring complex repetition and duplication in further processing (g) The sitting person either consider the issues as a prestige matter or they take it as contingency issue without considering its impacts and results (h) All parties look and try their best to use either win-lose or fraudulent approach without looking the inside opportunity of win-win approach. In addition, there are various causes and reasons lead the dialogue and negotiation towards failure that includes content, concept, context, command and contemporary issues of the country and particular institutions in the particular times that may affect by various national or international social, political, economical and cultural or other reasons.

To address the issues, government of Nepal has to institutionalize and professionalize the system and mechanism of dialogue and negotiation specially to address the various labour disputes and conflicts that are coming in overwhelming numbers in recent days. The institutionalization and professionalization of the areas and subject of dialogue and negotiation is lacking within all stakeholders including government, employers and labors unions ignoring the sensitivity and technicality of the issues.

They have no budget, no resource and no professional expertise to lead or head such dialogue and negotiation, if required. State is weak, so the labour and employers believe that protest, strike, demonstration and bandh are a good solution for everything. They know government cannot able to control their impunity in fragile and transitional situation, so all of them do whatever they want and whenever they need to fulfill their vested interest. Honestly writing, the labour relation related dialogue and negotiation is not in main priority of government, they just feel headache when it comes as a pressure in their table. So, it is desire to have drastic reform and restructuring in overall labour administration reform of Nepal including labour relation in accordance with roadmap came in 100th ILO labour conference in Geneva 2011.

In Nepal, Labour Right, Employer rights, trade union rights or labour administration are just remained as a fashion and publicity for particular limited person, party and institution, because it has not been seen generalize, accessible, professionalize and mainstream into entire members and stakeholders of labour relations throughout the country. It is an urgent need of the country to aware and sensitizes its entire people about labour education, rights duties and obligation as a major issue of civic education. At the same time, the country also needs strong labour administration to control the mounting impunity and criminality of labour and employer equally. Similarly, the mainstreaming and productive collaboration with national economy and contribution in building inclusive economic development are also essential.

So, strong government, rule of law, professionalism and industrial peace are prerequisite for a successful labour relation in Nepal. Therefore, as conclusion, I would say that in Nepal's labour issue related dialogue and negotiation cannot be success if deal within academic and general traditionalistic framework. It is not easy as a book or manual of dialogue and negation describes about it, because the nature and issues of labour relation here normally comes as unexpected disaster in Nepal which is very often and common. No one can easily predict about upcoming brutal protest that when is start, what's destination, who will be the looser or winner, what will be causality and how it resolves. It meant everything is uncertain in some extend. The labour issues of Nepal cannot be compared as general case in other country but for sure it is mostly similar case as other post conflict transitional countries have. So, a specific and technically simulated transitional strategy and roadmap required to address the issues related to industrial peace and managing and dealing with good labour relation in Nepal. Even after a long history of unionism in Nepal, there is no law or specific executive orders until now that guide and command the labour based dialogue and negotiation in detail besides its urgency. Therefore, it is expected to pay high attention and priority from tripartite side, if the state want to handle the issue effectively and efficiently in upcoming days for prosperous and pleasant labour affairs of Nepal.

Mr. Krishnahari Pushkar writes about social issues, security and conflict management, often in relation to Nepal. An Under Secretary of Government in Nepal, he is well honored as a Peace, Security and Conflict Management Professional, who contributes regularly to national and international nongovernmental organizations as a peace and conflict management expert.

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