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Fulbari Resort closed due to labour dispute

- LAL PRASAD SHARMA, Pokhara

Sep 2, 2017-The five-star Fulbari Resort and Spa in Pokhara has remained closed for more than six months due to a dispute between management and employees over pay and other facilities. 

Workers belonging to trade unions affiliated to the three major political parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)—launched a protest after perks and other facilities promised to them did not materialise, they said. The posh hotel closed its doors on February 28.

The hotel’s restaurant, walls and swimming pool have been damaged after being overrun with weeds, said hotel accountant Chiranjeevi Acharya. “The hotel wears a deserted look.”

The management and workers’ representatives have held several rounds of talks to discuss their demands that all ended inconclusively.

There are more than 100 employees at the hotel. The hotel management said that they were forced to stop taking bookings and transfer guests with confirmed reservations to other hotels. 

The agitating unions have claimed that the hotel owes them salaries for two months, provident fund for 26 months, service charge for 14 months and health insurance for seven years.  

The management said it was racking up losses amounting to millions due to the closure of the hotel. It said that losses due to cancellation of bookings and damaged infrastructure would total Rs150 million. 

“It’s unfair and illegal that the unions should stop work without prior information. The resort has been closed not due to the management’s problem,” said Samir Kafle, general manager of the hotel. “However, we are optimistic that the problem will be resolved soon.” 

Kafle said that despite the earthquake and trade embargo in 2015, the hotel had been paying salaries to the workers on a regular basis. 

“We have also promised to provide other perks and facilities, but it is unfortunate that the unions have made an issue and halted work completely,” he said. Kafle said that it would take at least four months to repair the damaged infrastructure of the hotel. The management said that it was close to reaching an agreement with the unions. 

The Labour Office in Pokhara has been acting as a mediator to resolve the issue through a win-win situation. 

The management is mulling to give a golden handshake to the workers by providing them a package deal. If the plan is implemented, nearly 120 employees who are below the executive level will be sent away.

Nava Raj Giri, vice-president of the Fulbari Resort and Spa unit of the All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, said they were holding talks to give workers a package deal as a going away present. “There is no reason to stay on as the management has informed us that the hotel will be shut down,” he said.

Published: 02-09-2017 08:41

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