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Give us increments or we strike: LEPOSA

 ’Marafaele Mohloboli

 RESTIVE police officers have given the government a week to award them six percent salary increments or face a humiliating protest march.

The police officers who have coalesced under the umbrella union, Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA), had initially intended to stage a protest march and hand over a petition to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on 25 June.

They however, deferred the protest march after talks with the Acting Minister of Police and Public Safety, Prince Maliehe, and his principal secretary Matela Thabane.

The issue of the salary increments date back to 2015, when the then government awarded a maximum six percent salary increment to the police service and this was given on a differentiated percentage grade which left out most of the junior officers.

Acting Minister of Police Prince Maliehe and his Principal Secretary Matela Thabane.

Some ranks were awarded two percent while those in the ranks of Superintendent and Senior Superintendent were not given an increment.

The Commissioner of Police was allegedly awarded a 5, 5 percent increment, a move that was described as “unlawful, arbitrary and discriminatory” by the police union.

Over a month ago, restive police officers threatened to embark on a go-slow strike action, allegedly because Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli had refused to meet them to address their salary grievances.

But in the latest turn of events, LEPOSA, who had resolved to stage a protest march, say they have deferred the march to give the government a chance to resolve their grievances.

This follows talks between the police union and Messrs Maliehe and Thabane.

LEPOSA deputy president Teboho Modia said the recent talks between the two sides yielded an agreement on the establishment of a task team comprising four LEPOSA members and government representatives to look into the police officers’ grievances.

“We had cordial talks with Minister Maliehe after he called the LEPOSA executive and we agreed on a time frame of two weeks starting from 24 June within which the issue of six percent salary increase should have been addressed,” Mr Modia recently told the Sunday Express.

He however, said they would still march to petition Dr Thabane if the government did not meet its end of the bargain by fully addressing their grievances in the two weeks’ timeframe. Only a week is left of that agreed timeframe.

“It should be noted that the protest march has not been called off, it has just been deferred and if our demands are not met within the agreed timeframe, we will have no option but to go ahead with the protest as initially planned,” Mr Modia said.

He added that they were still waiting to be paid their risk allowances dating back to April this year. He said this was despite promises by the principal secretary Mr Thabane to have paid them by Friday 28 June.

Meanwhile, Mr Maliehe recently addressed a media conference in Maseru where he promised that most of the police’s grievances would be addressed in a short space of time. He attributed the delays in awarding the salary increments to limited funds in the treasury.

“There were some police officers who didn’t receive the six percent (increment) and this was not because of any malicious intentions (on the part of government). Everything depends on liquidity (in the treasury).

“The only reason why all the owed monies were not paid is because we were not given a lump sum (for the payments). Only M50 million was set aside to pay out the arrears and we still need a top up of M9 million. This shall however be paid out in a space of six weeks as cabinet has approved an advance warrant,” Mr Maliehe said recently.

He also revealed that they were in talks with a local company, Seshoeshoe Productions, for the supply of police uniforms.

He however, said they were yet to be given the M7 Million required for the procurement of the police uniforms.

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