KATHMANDU, Feb 4: Trade unions of hotels and restaurant workers organized a protest rally in Kathmandu on Sunday, demanding rollback of a decision to withdraw 10 percent service charge levied on restaurant bill.
Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal (REBAN) – a professional body of restaurants and bars across the country – had last week decided to withdraw 10 percent service charge in Kathmandu, Sauraha and Pokhara, citing complaints from consumers, among others. It also said that other restaurants and bars in other cities will withdraw the service charge gradually.
The rally was organized jointly by All Nepal Hotel Casino and Restaurant Workers Association, Casino & Restaurant Workers Union, and National Tourism and Hotel Associated Workers’ Union, demanding REBAN to withdraw its decision of scrapping 10 percent service charge. The trade unions have threatened to close all restaurants and bars from Tuesday, if the decision is not rolled back immediately.
A day after REBAN took a decision to scrap service charge, the trade unions had given a 24-hour ultimatum for rollback of the decision. “However, REBAN turned a deaf ear toward our demand. This is not acceptable to us,” said Madhav Pandey, president of All Nepal Hotel, Casino and Restaurant Workers Association.
REBAN along with Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) and trade unions of hotels and restaurant workers had signed an agreement May 26, 2018 to provide larger share from funds collected from 10 percent service charge to workers. The agreement had come into effect on June 8, 2018.
Trade unions say instead of giving workers their due share, REBAN chose to scrap the service charge.
“They (REBAN) has acted against the spirit of the agreement signed with us. Now, we are left with no option to hit the streets to pile pressure on them,” added Pandey.
Surya Bahadur Kunwar, president of Casino & Restaurant Workers Union and Khemraj Khadka, president of National Tourism and Hotel Associated Workers’ Union, said that there won’t be any compromise against restaurateurs and hoteliers this time. The service charge is workers’ rights and has to be implemented at any cost, they said during the rally.
Meanwhile, issuing a press release on Sunday, REBAN said it was serious about the well being of its workers. “We have already taken needful initiative to implement basic salary announced by the government. Also, tips collected from our clients will be distributed among workers,” the association added in the statement.
Araniko Rajbhandari, general secretary of REBAN, said there was no point conducting protest as the Supreme Court has also issued a show cause notice against the decision. “Hence, the problem has to be resolved with mutual understanding,” he added.