MASERU — An official from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has lashed out at firms that fled South Africa into Lesotho only to continue exploiting workers.
The Cosatu official, Sam Mashinini, said it was imperative for workers from the two countries to unite to stop such exploitation.
Mashinini was in Lesotho at the invitation of local trade unions in preparation for joint May Day celebrations at Sethaleng in Maseru on Saturday.
“Workers in the world must unite to fight against capitalism,” Mashinini said.
“Capitalists are moving from one place to another in search of profits.
“They are only concerned about profits.”
He said there were a number of firms that had relocated from South Africa to Lesotho after unions in that country pressed for better working conditions.
Mashinini said these companies had set base in Lesotho only to subject workers to exploitative practices.
He did not mention any of these companies by name.
“There are some companies that have relocated to Lesotho when there was pressure for better working conditions in South Africa,” Mashinini said.
“It cannot be right that employees from the same company are paid differently in Lesotho and in South Africa.”
He said Cosatu officials were working closely with their counterparts in Lesotho to stop these exploitative practices.
The Cosatu official said they wanted to share experiences with their counterparts in Lesotho to help improve the lives of workers in the country.
Cosatu and two local trade unions, the Congress for Lesotho Trade Unions and the Lesotho Trade Union Congress, said they were to join hands to mark Workers Day on Saturday.
The Workers Day celebrations will be held under the theme: deepen working class power to advance the struggle for decent work.
In a statement on Tuesday, the unions said they were holding the joint celebrations “to ensure that workers are able to unite throughout the world”.
“Our biggest challenge is to ensure that the interest of the working class over the past 25 years is basically taken forward.
“Workers today are still subjected to very bad and poor conditions which through our unity as both workers from Lesotho and South Africa can take our struggle to the next level,” said the statement.
They said they were going to mobilise workers in South Africa and Lesotho to join the celebrations.
“Our class enemy as the working people is capital,” the statement said.
“One typical example is that this class enemy when challenged with better working conditions in South Africa, they opt to run to Lesotho where workers will continue to be exploited.”
The unions said a closer working relationship between workers in Lesotho and South Africa can improve the lives of the working class.
In an interview on Tuesday, a Lesotho Congress of Democratic Unions (Lecodu) representative, Tseliso Ramochela, said they will conduct door-to-door campaigns to disseminate information on employee and employer relations.
“The strategies that we have used in the past have made us to be less effective,” Ramochela said.
“There is need for unity in our struggle to improve the working conditions of the working class in the country.”
He said Lesotho and South Africa should work together to prevent the exploitation of workers who are working under difficult circumstances.
He said the high unemployment levels and low standard of education for workers made workers liable to exploitation by employers.
“We cannot live in isolation since our country is not isolated; our country is a member of Sadc (Southern African Development Community) so we need to enjoy the benefits from that membership.
“Our law-enforcement agencies are not effective and as a result there is (very little) effective enforcement against the mistreatment of workers,” Ramochela said.
But in a statement issued on Wednesday, Lecodu said it had withdrawn from the joint celebrations.
Lecodu vice-president, Daniel Maraisane, said the union will hold a press conference tomorrow to explain its withdrawal from the celebrations.
It was not possible to establish the reasons for Lecodu’s withdrawal.