Published On: July 8, 2022 01:15 PM NPT By: Ruby Rauniyar
KATHMANDU, July 8: Despite the government banning strikes in essential services, the employees of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) have been staging protests at the head office for the past three weeks. The trade union and the drivers' association have warned of further intensifying the protest activities from Friday.
The authorities concerned have not taken any initiative to solve the problem even though it has been three weeks since the protest was launched in an organization related to the fundamental rights of citizens like drinking water. As the agitation has reached the ‘fifth stage’ there are concerns that the service itself may be affected.
The agitated employees have been blocking the entry of KUKL chief executive officer Milan Kumar Shakya since June 15, demanding his resignation. Sant Bohara, president of the KUKL Employees' Union affiliated to the Nepali Congress, clarified that they had to launch the agitation demanding the exit of CEO Shakya due to his inability to show efficiency. He said that they had to take part in the strike for policy, institutional and structural reforms of KUKL.
“Even though KUKL is under the Ministry of Drinking Water, all the work is done by the committee itself. The board has been holding discussions time and again but due to the lack of a solution, additional agitation programs will be announced,” Bohara told Republica. “If the demand is not met in a few days, the service will be affected as well.”
Similarly, Tiresh Prasad Khatri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of KUKL and Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Water Supply, clarified that the office-bearers cannot be removed under any pressure as the board has its own rules and regulations. He said that the board had appointed CEO Shakya for four years through open competition after completing the process and an agreement had been reached on how to move forward in these four years by reaching consensus.
"Considering the serious impact on public health when the agitation disrupts the operation of essential services like drinking water supply, the board meeting has also advised employees to withdraw the agitation and instruct them to resolve the issue through talks,” said Chairman Khatri.
According to a KUKL employee, Krishna Chaudhary, personal secretary to the Minister for Water Supply, and Shashi Lamsal, Deputy Secretary to the Minister for Water Supply, came to Shakya three months ago with a list of 90 employees demanding that they be appointed on contract. Chairman of KUKL Employees' Union Nawal Singh Saud clarified that KUKL had canceled 90 contract posts only a few months ago to prevent political interference in the organization but argued that they should not be re-appoint to those same posts on contract.
Likewise, Minister for Water Supply Umakanta Chaudhary clarified that he has never pressured anyone for any appointment since he became a minister. He said that it was unfortunate that there was agitation in an institution responsible for the supply and distribution of drinking water.
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