UN labour agency urges Nepal’s king to ensure safety of trade union leaders

UN labour agency urges Nepal’s king to ensure safety of trade union leaders

Juan Somavia
The United Nations labour agency today urged King Gyanendra of Nepal to “take all necessary steps to ensure the personal safety” of trade union leaders and members following his imposition of a state of emergency and suspension of civil liberties in an effort to suppress a long-running Maoist insurgency.

The United Nations labour agency today urged King Gyanendra of Nepal to “take all necessary steps to ensure the personal safety” of trade union leaders and members following his imposition of a state of emergency and suspension of civil liberties in an effort to suppress a long-running Maoist insurgency.

In a letter to the king, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia expressed “deep concern” about information that a royal decree had suppressed all trade union rights and banned meetings.

Mr. Somavia referred to indications that top trade unions leaders were under the threat of arrest, including Laxman Basnet of the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), who is a member of the ILO Governing Body.

He reiterated the established ILO position that emergency legislation aimed at anti-social disruptive elements should not be applied against workers for exercising their legitimate trade union rights, including the right to organize public meetings.

On Tuesday Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed grave concern at the king’s actions, terming them “a serious setback” which he did not believe would bring lasting peace and stability, and he called for the immediate restoration of democratic freedoms and institutions.