Trade unions today demanded social security schemes to workers.
Observing the International Labour Day, popularly known world over as ‘May Day’ today, trade unions also threatened to obstruct budget session of the parliament, if the government fails to address their issues related to workers’ rights.
All the trade unions under Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre (JTUCC) gave ultimatum to the government on speedy implementation of the social security issue.
Though the government had promised to bring social security schemes for workers, it has been delayed due to lack of Social Security Act and new Labour Act.
President of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Union (GEFONT) Bishnu Rimal, on the occasion, asked the government to refund of all the money that has been contributed to the Social Security Fund (SSF), if the next session of Constituent Assembly (CA) and parliament does not implement the social security schemes. The fund has so far Rs 7 billion deposit contributed from the workers.
A commitment motion on the speedy implementation of social security schemes has already been submitted in the parliament.
According to president of Nepal Trade Union Congress-Independent Khilnath Dahal, lack of Social Security Act has delayed the schemes and utilisation of the fund.
According to the draft Social Security Act, employees will contribute 11 per cent of their wage, up from the existing one per cent and employers will be responsible to chip in 20 per cent to the Social Security Fund.
The government has been deducting one per cent from the salary of both public and private sector employees since last four years. It had also introduced Social Security Fund Management and Operation Regulation 2011 to collect the taxes and bring schemes. But, due to lack of Act, the social security schemes have not seen the day yet.
The trade unions blame the government and private sector for their apathy towards introducing the Act as the fund money is sitting idle.
Employers, on the other hand, also claim that they are waiting for the Act to contribute to the Fund. But they say social security should be packaged with labour law reform including Trade Union Act and Insurance Act. But the employees and employers are still not come to terms on some provisions like ‘hire and fire’ and ‘no work no pay’ in the new Labour Act.
The government is also planning to introduce schemes to cover maternity expenses, workplace hazards and medical treatment of workers under the social security.
The Fund has also envisaged of bringing other schemes like unemployment benefits, facilities for dependents of workers, and old-age compensation to workers.
Meanwhile, addressing May Day programme organised by Nepal Trade Union Congress-Independent to mark the 125th International Labour Day, today, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala expressed his commitment to ensure workers’ representation in government’s policy level bodies. He also sought for a year to implement the decision.