In a significant move, Mr. Shankar Lamichhane, President of UNICTS Nepal and a member of the Nepal Telecom Board, ended his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the company’s management and board to address critical issues affecting employees. Lamichhane, who represents workers’ interests on the board, initiated the strike on December 17 in front of the Managing Director’s office in Kathmandu to shed light on long-ignored problems within Nepal Telecom.
Despite Nepal Telecom’s status as the nation’s top taxpayer and a profitable entity with 8 billion Nepalese Rupees (about USD$60 million) in profits in 2022, underlying challenges persisted. These included the implementation of collective bargaining agreements and the rights of its nearly 4,000 employees.
The strike, driven by the management’s reluctance to tackle key employee welfare issues such as social security, pension benefits, and operational improvements, aimed to prompt meaningful changes in the company’s culture and decision-making. Lamichhane also stressed the need for transparency through third-party evaluations of projects and adherence to collective agreements with trade unions.
The action garnered support from all four trade unions within Nepal Telecom and 21 national unions under the UNI Nepal Liaison Council. After 27 hours, a consensus was reached among the unions, management, and board, leading to Lamichhane ending his strike on December 18 with a symbolic gesture of accepting juice from the Secretary of the Ministry of Communication.
Rajendra Acharya, UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary, commended the resolution, highlighting it as a testament to the role of trade unions in ensuring fairness and fostering a balanced work environment within Nepal Telecom:
“We appreciate the cooperation and understanding demonstrated by all parties involved. The Board has demonstrated a commendable commitment to fairness and justice by responding to the demands. The resolution of this matter not only reinforces the significance of trade unions within Nepal Telecom but also underscores the company’s and the unions’ dedication to maintaining a harmonious and equitable working environment.”