Curb Excessive Trade Unionism
In Nepal, the trade union politics has gone too far, thanks to politicisation of civil service following the advent of multiparty democracy. Like other areas, the tentacles of evil politics have gripped the bureaucracy, forcing it to lose many elements of discipline and dignity. The trade union leaders are blamed to defy their seniors and do not give a damn about their duty as they have nexus with the political parties. Over two dozen employees associated with various trade unions enjoy salary and perks without lifting a finger at their offices. This has set a bad precedent in the bureaucracy that is known as a permanent government and expected to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance.
Civil servants are known as rastra sewak but the infecting unionism has taken the starch out of many honest employees. The trade unions were set up to defend the professional and social security rights of the employees. But they identified themselves as the sister wings of political parties and work for their partisan interest. They indulge in transferring and promoting their members, and securing contract of development projects and bhag and banda (divide and share) in political appointments and economic deals. Moreover, the trade union leaders are known as political activists for their fiery speeches in political events.
Political parties are to blame for the latitude the trade union leaders are enjoying. In 2065 BS, a meeting of the Council of Ministers under Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda decided that the employees associated with different trade unions could get salary and other facilities they are entitled to without showing their presence in the attendance book of their given offices. As per this provision, five office-bearers each from five trade unions enjoy this facility. The trade unions affiliated to the CPN-UML, Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre and Madhes-based parties are ahead to take advantage of this faulty proviso even after the election of the official trade union. In fact, these trade unions have become illegal with this election.
In light of the new development, the Ministry of General Administration and the Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi have recently directed around 25 trade union leaders to return to their offices but they have reportedly defied their instructions. Instead, they have challenged the government to revoke the cabinet decision that allowed them the very right before sending them back to their offices.
Nowhere in the world do the employees have rights to get salary and other facilities without working in their office. It is really a bizarre situation that the civil servants who are supposed to be a role model in the public make the mockery of rule of law by exploiting the legal loopholes.
Nepal’s bureaucracy is often blamed for its red tape and slow service delivery. Likewise, endemic corruption has greatly discredited it. There has been widespread perception that service seekers have to offer hefty kickbacks to hakim sahebs to get their works done in time. Instead of being involved in petty politics, the newly elected trade union leadership should rise to occasion to clean up the image of bureaucracy by cutting their excessive unionism. These measures are essential to revamp bureaucracy and provide effective service to the commoners.