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South Asia HRCT Unions Demand Peace and Democracy;
Aim for Unity, Solidarity and Jobs
IUF South Asia HRCT Unions Conference
December 12-13, 2006, Kathmandu

Statement of Conclusion

The first ever conference of unions representing workers in the Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism (HRCT) Industry in South Asia, attended by unions from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India concluded as follows:

Peace & Democracy

Conference welcomes the strengthening of peace and democracy in South Asia, especially in Nepal, as this is the critical environment needed for development, poverty elimination and for growth of the tourism industry. However, without substantial progress on Peace and Democracy in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, tourism development will by-pass these two countries.

We look forward to expansion of tourism in South Asia, where the basic rights of workers (including job security) will be respected and the environment safeguarded.

Therefore we will give priority to defence of union rights and job security and insist that governments must uphold the basic ILO conventions (particularly Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining);

We pledge to eliminate the outsourcing and contractualisation of regular jobs in hotels;

Service Charge

Conference supports the hotel unions of Nepal working together as one and speaking with one voice in campaigning and negotiating with the Hoteliers’ Association of Nepal (HAN) to establish a system of service charge for hotel and tourism workers. This will benefit not only hotel and tourism workers but all of Nepal, as it will stimulate economic development and the sharing of tourism’s benefit widely. We urge all hotel unions, that is, the unions affiliated to NTUC, GEFONT and the recently emerged Maoist Hotel union to combine forces. Any union not supporting this strategic unity imperative will weaken the service charge campaign and workers will suffer.

One Industry, One Union

Conference declares that all workers in the HRCT industry in each country should be united in one union organization and that political divisions that have kept workers divided and weak should be overcome.

Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi

Conference received a report on gross violations of basic labour rights and shocking injustices at this luxury hotel in Karachi and declares its full support to the union in its struggle for justice. All unions expressed their commitment to join in any campaign (such as a postcard campaign) when called to do so.

Small hotels and catering establishments

Labour rights under the labour laws are widely ignored in small hotels and establishments throughout South Asia. Conference condemns this non-enforcement of labour laws for a huge portion of the workforce, which exposes them to severe exploitation. Unions at the Conference expressed their commitment to campaign for the enforcement of labour laws in small hotels and catering establishments, including the elimination of child labour from this sector.

Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)

Conference expresses its outrage that emergency rescue facilities are provided where necessary by the government of Nepal for foreign citizens who take part in trekking activities, but not for the citizens of Nepal who work as guides, porters and other workers in the trekking industry. Conference supports the demands of UNITRAV for safety equipment, full insurance and rescue support arrangements for workers in the trekking sector.

South Asian HRCT unions, will pursue these goals in solidarity with each other and with IUF HRCT affiliates in A/P and throughout the world.

Women’s Participation

Conference welcomed the commitment made by IUF affiliates in Nepal following the recent return to democracy, to increase the participation of women in unions, and in particular the Joint Declaration made by GEFONT and other organisations at a Conference on Inclusion of Women in Society from 31 August – 1 September 2006, to adopt various affirmative action policies, including a quota ensuring at least 33% women’s participation “in all state structures, political parties and civil society organisations”.

Role of IUF

Conference reaffirms the importance of IUF giving priority to:
mobilizing international solidarity in support of affiliates or fraternal unions engaged in struggles;
· assisting with relevant information when unions are negotiating with employers especially where transnational companies are concerned;
· focus on supporting education and training for union leaders (particularly women) and rank and file members;
· convening regular sub-regional and regional conferences;
· support the drive towards union unification on the basis of “one industry (HRCT), one union organization”;
· consider the posting of Collective Agreements and Settlements (Charter of Demands) on the IUF A/P website;
· Support the on-going struggle to win service charge in Nepal.

Conference expressed its deep appreciation to the three IUF-affiliated Nepalese unions (NTHWU, NIHWU and UNITRAV) for jointly hosting this conference and in particular to the Joint Organising Committee for facilitating all practical arrangements.

Dec 13, 2006