MASERU — The Sinohydro Corporation Lesotho and Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers Union (CMQAW) have signed a recognition agreement. The agreements that were signed on Thursday were aimed at formalising and regulating the relationship between the two parties and provide rules and procedure for the benefit of the two parties.
Since last year, the company has been having a series of disputes with its employees which saw the workers downing tools on several occasions. Water Affairs Minister Timothy Thahane had to intervene earlier this year after authorities feared the project, scheduled for completion in December, was not going to be completed on time. The worker’s grievances ranged from pay rate disputes to working conditions.
The formulation of the Recognition Agreement which was facilitated by Metolong Authority (MA) recognises the union’s majority representation of the workers employed at the dam site. Sinohydro currently employs around 465 workers of which around 365 are members of the CMQ.
It is hoped the agreement would help reduce friction between Sinohydro and the workers. According to the agreement the company undertakes to recognise the trade union’s right to organise and recruit members within company. It gives the company the right on the other hand to ensure controlled access of the union officials on the premises to avoid undue disruption of work.
In addition to the Recognition Agreement two collective agreements were signed between the contractor and the union regarding wages and related aspects. Metolong Authority’s Legal Services Manager, Thabiso Mohapi, said it had always been the wish of the MA and the Government of Lesotho that workers employed on the Metolong Programme construction sites relate well with their employers and engage in proper mechanisms to resolve differences where they arise.
He mentioned that this Recognition Agreement would go a long way towards creating the much-needed labour stability at the Metolong dam site at this critical time when the contractor is actively working to complete the dam. The acting Project Manager of Sinohydro, Liu Xijun, said that having the Recognition Agreement was a major milestone and hoped that all parties would abide by the terms agreed upon.
The General Secretary of CMQAW, Robert Mokhahlane, said that while the union observed that conflicts were bound to arise in the future, they were grateful that Sinohydro agreed to sign the Recognition Agreement which marked the beginning of smooth operations between the employer and the union. On behalf of employees at Sinohydro, Retšepile Mafata said it was their hope that the signing of the Recognition Agreement would help strengthen and build a mutual relationship between both parties and that the employer would abide by the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Metolong Authority is currently implementing the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme aimed at securing long-term reliable water for the capital city of Maseru and the surrounding towns of Roma, Mazenod, Morija and Teyateyaneng.