THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Keketso Rantšo says her ministry is in the process of recruiting two deputy presidents of the Labour Court to ensure an efficient and speedy dispute resolution of labour disputes.
Speaking at a recent media briefing in Maseru, Ms Rantšo said the ministry is aware that after the death of the-then Labour Court President, Lebeko Lethobane in 2012, he was not replaced, causing a huge backlog of unresolved cases.
“It is therefore my wish to see the recruitment of the two deputies finalised before end of the year while we look at other ways to further boost the capacity of the court in dealing with cases in time and efficiently,” Ms Rantšo said.
She said other mechanisms will include looking at further recruitments in 2018, especially considering that even before the death of Mr Lethobane, the Labour Court was already struggling to cope with the high demand of its services.
Established as a specialised court, the Labour Court is meant to resolve employment related disputes between employers and workers. The disputes include: unfair dismissals, unfair labour practices claims, workmen’s compensation claims, Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) awards as well as appeals from the Public Service Tribunal.
Currently, the court is not fully operational due to an acute staff shortage, with urgent applications not being accepted.
“The Labour Court provides essential services, which if neglected, impacts negatively on the self-esteem of aggrieved parties, their households’ wellbeing and the economy at large. Both employees and employers should know there is an efficient and impartial institution where they can seek solutions or mediation when there is a misunderstanding. Failure to provide such services would mean vulnerability particularly on the part of the employees. The need to strengthen the ability of the Labour Court to deliver quality services on time, is a priority area for this ministry,” Ms Rantšo said.
She said the recruitment of the two deputies is the ministry’s first step towards improving service delivery at the Labour Court.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary, ‘Maseithati Mabeleng, said the process of hiring the two deputies was at an advanced stage.
“The minister had pushed for an even earlier date but what delayed us was that the recruitment process had to be re-done after we failed to find suitable candidates at the first attempt. The standard requirements are very high because we have to ensure that we recruit the right people for the job which is also demanding,” Ms Mabeleng said.
For her part, President of the Labour Court, Malebona Khabo, said the recruitment of staff would go a long way in addressing the challenges they have experienced for a long time.
For his part, the General Secretary of the trade union Lentsoe La Sechaba Monaheng Mokoane said the Court must be fully-operational to help prevent the unfair treatment of workers in the workplace.
“The rights of workers are being trampled upon due to failure by the Court to fully operate. In many cases employers are getting away with malpractices at the expense of the poor workers,” he said.
He said his organisation has filed more than 50 cases in the Labour Court, which are yet to be heard.