RUP NARAYAN DHAKAL
POKHARA: Maoist-aligned workers of Casino Grande today threatened to close Pokhara Grande, a five-start hotel in Pokhara, following a management decision yesterday to shut the casino.
The decision to shut Casino Grande sine die came after efforts to resolve a long-drawn dispute between the casino and workers failed.
“Both the hotel and casino are being run under the same administration. If our demands are not met, we will have no option but to shut the hotel for good,” said Hari Khadka, chairman of Casino Grande unit of All Nepal Hotel and Restaurant Workers’ Association.
However, Shyam Kumar Khadka, manager, Casino Grande, said they were hoping that talks would resume between the casino management and agitating workers by tomorrow.
The casino workers, who began a sit-in yesterday immediately after the closure notice was put, continued their protest today as well. The casino workers have been organising several struggle programmes for the last three months, demanding Rs 1,600 salary hike, in line with the notice published in the Nepal Gazette, and provident fund.
“The workers spurned our repeated calls for dialogue. And when they stopped serving guests, we had no choice but to close the casino,” said Khadka.
A second notice published today by the management said it was forced to shut the casino as workers had stopped serving guests since June 15. The management has also urged all the casino staff to maintain patience until the problem is resolved. Ramnath Devkota, a casino employee, said he came to know that the casino was shut after reaching the hotel today. He said workers today moved the labour office saying decision to close the casino sans prior notice was illegal.
The workers have accused the management of discriminating against casino staffers by denying them increased salary. They claimed that hotel staffers were enjoying the facility.