Meaning of Unionism

Unionism is the process of forming union. A union is an organization of workers, acting collectively to protect and promote the interest of the workers. A union is an organization and has certain structure, goals and objectives and people with it. A union is relatively permanent, members of the union work collectively as a group. Individual interests are scarified for the sake of group interest. Members of
the union seek to promote and protect their mutual interests. Such interests can be economic, cultural, social or political. A union operates through collective bargaining. Labour and management come to the bargaining table to negotiate and reach a settlement acceptable to both of them.

Process of Unionization

This involves
  • The laws should allow the formation of union. In Nepal, the trade union Act 1993 provides the legal basis for the formation of union. 
  • There is need of organizing together. The workers come together to protect their interests and fight for social in justice, discrimination at work and so on with the management.
  • A petition should be filed with the appropriate authority to register the union. In Nepal, the labour department acts as the registering agency for the government.
  • The election is held to elect the office, bearers of the union.
  • There is need of recognition of the duty elected union by the management.

Labour Legislation

Labour legislation refers to laws, rules, regulations and judicial decisions related to labour relations. It plays vital role in maintaining labour relations. Labour legislation creates legal rights and obligations between labour and management. The aim is to protect the rights and interest of the workers to provide them social justice.

Labour legislation plays two major roles:
  1. Protective roles: This promotes and protects the rights and interests of the workers. It creates contractual relations for employment by specifying: 
    1. Terms and condition of employment
    2. Working conditions
    3. Benefits and services for worker and his family compensation, including minimum wages and accident-related-compensation. 
  2. Regulatory roles: This is concerned with promotion and maintenance of better labour relations. It defines, clarifies and regulates labour relations. Examples are
    1. Right to work
    2. Collective bargaining
    3. Disputes and their settlement
    4. Equal employment opportunities to avoid discrimination
    5. Fair and equal treatment
    6. Safety of workers
    7. Welfare of worker and family
    8. Unions and related matters.

Labour Legislation in Nepal

Nepal had no effective labour legislation till 1959. The important legal acts are as follows.
  1. Nepal Factory and Factory Worker Act, 1959. (NFFWA): This was the first Act related with labour, where following provisions were made
    1. Payment of wages, overtime, and minimum wages to workers.
    2. Provident fund provision for permanent workers
    3. Welfare provisions, consisting of
      1. Leave, working hours
      2. Pension, provident fund, maternity benefits
      3. Compensation for injury/ disability/ death
      4. Medical facilities
      5. Rest room for taking rest by workers
      6. Children’s arrangements
        1. Worker’s right to form union
        2. Work committees to harmonize labour relation
        3. Employment of foreign citizens
        4. Right to strike and lockout, etc.
        5. Tribunal to settle disputes
  2. Bonus Act, 1974: This Act maintains the provisions of bonus to employees and workers. It specifies:
    1. The bonus shall not exceed 10% of the net profit.
    2. The amount of bonus to an individual will depend on the amount of monthly salaries and wages paid, but shall not exceed 6 months wages and salaries.
  3. Labour Act, 1992 (as amended in 1998): This Act replaced the NFFWA of 1959. The main provisions of this act related to: 
    1. Employment and job security, firing of worker.
    2. Working hours.
    3. Remuneration and yearly pay increment
    4. Health and security
    5. Welfare provisions
    6. Settlement of labour disputes and conflicts
    7. Rule of conduct
  4. Trade Union Act, 1993: The main provisions of this Act are:
    1. It provides legal basis for organizing the trade union. It demands a minimum 10 workers to form a union and should have at least 25% of the total worker of the organization with it.
    2. It specifies objectives of a trade union as:
      1. Improve working conditions and work for socio-economic progress of workers.
      2. Maintain good relations with management
      3. Increase productivity and assist in organization’s development.
      4. Make provisions for recognition of authorized trade union for presenting demands to management.
      5. The provision has been made for Registrar of Trade Unions.
      6. Organization level trade unions can from Trade Union Association (TUA/, TUA then can form Trade Union Federation (TUE). The framework for labour legislation in Nepal is still in an early stages. Policies, laws and institutions are still evolving.
  5. Child Labour Act, 2000 (CL Act): The Act has following provision in it:
    1. Children below 16 years have been defined as child.
    2. Children below 14 years must not be employed as labour.
    3. Children must not be employed in any hazardous jobs as specified. For example: Construction sites, public transport and engineering project. Tourist related jobs, carpet dyeing, beer and liquor, plastic, glass, insecticides etc.
      1. Permission should be taken from the authorized government agency for employment of child.
      2. Child labour must not be used from 6 pm in the evening to 6 am in the morning.
      3. Child labour must not be employed for more than 6 hours per pay or 36 hours per week.
      4. There should be no discrimination in wage payment for child labour.
      5. Labour Department has power to inspect organizations employing child labour.
Punishment ranging from three months imprisonment or Rs. 10,000 fine or both are provided for violation of the law.

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