The perception is that there are few businesses that are really suffering because of the current labour problems and as long as people can find ways to find individual solutions, no one is interested in looking at a common one.
But the business community has to speak with one voice. Having myriad disconnected organisations is counterproductive when it comes to getting the government to agree on providing security to businesses or resolving labour issues.
The workforce had become an empowered group, patronised by the political parties. Workers who believe in productivity and hard work have no place as they are constantly coerced by politically motivated workers who have no intention of working for the betterment of the business. But now the political parties are wondering how to tame these people whom they let loose for political gain.
The service charge issue, which the Beed continues to harp on about, is a perfect example of how the myopia of businesses and labour has now led to a serious crisis in the hospitality industry. The employers gave in since they could pass on the cost to the customers anyway. Now, there is no incentive for staff to offer the highest level of service because irrespective of their effort everybody makes the same tip. Anyone who recalls service levels at hotels and restaurants in Kathmandu 10 years ago will know what we are talking about.
Nepali businesses and industry will have no future if the worker issue is not resolved. The country faces the threat of being relegated to a country with many trade unions but no real business or industry. The government and the political parties need to realise that if they do not rein in their workers and make them agree to the fundamentals, then they have to start finding ways of getting revenues from sources other than business. Where else in the world does a government survive on revenue apart from taxing businesses?
The business community needs to unite based on the workers they employ and the taxes they pay and create an advocacy group that starts to force the government to act. For the government, it would be then to go along with other political forces to ensure that the worker leaderships agree on a solution that will be beneficial for both workers and businesses to operate in Nepal.
Otherwise,the finance minister's goal of boosting job creation by attracting investments will just be a pipe dream.