MASERU — A local garment factory, Nien Hsing International Lesotho, last week said it will not reinstate the 185 workers who were fired last month for allegedly holding an illegal Christmas party.
The company dismissed almost its entire workforce of 1 200 on 11 December claiming that the workers had engaged in an illegal strike.
The workers however disputed the allegation insisting they were merely having a Christmas party.
In a surprise twist to the case, the company rehired the bulk of the workforce just hours after serving them with letters of dismissal.
But 185 workers were not so lucky.
The company said it was not going to re-hire these “ring leaders” claiming they were the most vocal during the strike action.
The company reopened its doors on Tuesday after the festive holiday break.
When the Sunday Express visited the company on Thursday the axed workers were gathered outside the factory’s premises pondering their next move.
Management at Nien Hsing International Lesotho were last week still adamant they would not take back the workers.
The dismissed workers were restless and angry when they spoke to the Sunday Express on Thursday.
They said they had since Tuesday tried to engage management to rescind its decision without success.
An assistant factory manager, Daniel Bu, said the company was not considering hiring back those who were highly active in the “protest”.
“From our side we are not considering taking them back because those were the people who were intimidating other employees.
“We have got proof that those people were not working. We have got the video clips of that event,” Bu said.
He said the majority of the dismissed workers were also under the influence of alcohol.
“They were holding bottles while singing and those bottles contained alcohol,” he said.
But one of the affected employees, ’Malelingoana Moiloa, said they had been unfairly dismissed.
“We are really angry because we were dismissed without good reasons. The management used unjust means to dismiss us,” Moiloa said.
“I feel I have been trapped because my dismissal has nothing to do with the Christmas party. I was accused of holding HIV and Aids training sessions during working hours.
“I am a peer educator of Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight Aids and this association came to the factory with the blessing of our management,” she said.
She claimed she was dismissed as she did not have good working relations with her immediate boss.
“We are amazed that there are certain people who were asked to go back to work yet we were celebrating together,” she said.
“We were fired because we are members of workers’ unions. The management of this factory is against members who take part in trade union activities.
“I know my rights as an employee. I cannot be oppressed at work. They want to drive us like slaves,” she said.
Another employee, ’Mamaphephe Pooho, blamed her dismissal on her immediate supervisor.
“I was one of the people who were given a second chance but because of the sour relations between me and my supervisor she refused to give me back my identity card so I could not get back my job,” said Pooho.
Meanwhile, the Lesotho Clothing and Workers Union (LECAWU) said it was hoping management at Nien Hsing International Lesotho would have a change of heart and re-hire the sacked employees.
LECAWU general secretary, Daniel Maraisane, said they had a meeting with the factory management.
“We had a meeting on Monday with the factory management about that issue,” Maraisane said
“Other employees were reinstated. The 185 workers were left out because they were said to be highly active during the December 11 event.”
He said they were frantically trying to convince the factory managers to reinstate the dismissed workers.