KATHMANDU, Feb 15: The management and the protesting workers of Unilever Nepal have expressed their readiness in resuming operations of the closed multinational company, with both parties in dispute agreeing to initiate talks and work, simultaneously.
The verbal agreement was reached on Tuesday during a meeting held at the Labor Office in Hetauda.
If both sides stick to their commitments until Wednesday, when another round of talks are being held, there are high chances of Unilever Nepal, which has remained closed for the last 10 days, coming back into operation immediately.
Ravi Bhakta Shrestha, local promoter of Unilever Nepal, told Republica: “If workers agree to return to work, we can simultaneously resume negotiations on their demands.”
Jay Ram Dhital, a member of the negotiating team formed on behalf of workers, also expressed similar commitment. “If the management agrees to sit for talks soon after we return to work, we are willing to let the company operate,” he told Republica.
The Basamadi Factory of Unilever Nepal has remained closed since February 5 after the factory´s workers launched a strike demanding 50 percent hike in salary and allowances, interest-free housing loan of Rs 1 million per person and house maintenance allowance of Rs 100,000 per person per year.
Unilever management said the demands were placed at a time when the remuneration of staff was raised by 69 percent between 2009 and 2011, as against rise in company´s profit of 37.3 percent in the same period.
To attract the attention of the government in the ongoing industrial dispute, management of Unilever Nepal, along with members of employers´ organizations like the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, met Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Tuesday.
“We informed him about the incident at Unilever Nepal and how it has set a bad example for other foreign investors who want to explore possibilities here,” a member of the delegation said.