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Metsing pledges to boost workers’ pay

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has pledged to review factory workers’ salaries if it wins Saturday’s general election.
LCD leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, told an estimated 4 000 factory workers during an election campaign rally at the Thetsane Industrial Area in Maseru on Friday that his government would significantly review factory workers’ salaries.
“Your salaries are so small and dehumanising.
“As such, you come as people who don’t work and are faced with so many challenges at the workplace on a daily basis,” Metsing said.
“But we promise that once we become government after May 26, the first thing we’ll do will be to look into your salaries and protect your jobs.”
The lowest paid factory worker currently earns about M900 a month.
But trade unions say the lowest paid factory worker must get salaries of around M2 000 a month.
Metsing also lashed out at the workers’ conditions of service saying workers were being exposed to harmful chemicals which affected their health.
He said under his government this status quo will have to change.
“The law currently is silent on what needs to be done to compensate you for the harm caused to your health by chemicals.
“But we will also look into it,” Metsing said.
Metsing was welcomed by factory workers, some donning LCD women’s league head cloths and T-shirts.
Others were carrying placards in praise of the LCD leader.
“We welcome you, Ntate Metsing” and “We welcome you, our future prime minister”, read some of the placards.
Metsing said an LCD government would ensure factory workers get their severance pay immediately after resigning their jobs and in the event of death, beneficiaries would be allowed to access the benefits immediately.
“Currently you don’t get your severance pay on time while at times you get it after a year.
“When you die, your children and families cannot claim those monies on your behalf,” Metsing said.
“But our government will see to it that you get your benefits immediately after resignation instead of having to wait for lengthy periods.”
Metsing promised that his government would also ensure that factory workers qualify for loans from local banks instead of being discriminated against.
“There should not be discrimination against you by banks when employees from other sectors can apply for and receive loans from banks,” he said.
Metsing said his government will build factories that suit Lesotho’s harsh weather conditions.
“Your factories are very cold in winter and very hot in summer, we’ll build those that are warm in the winter and can be cooled in summer,” he said.
Metsing was however adamant that things could only change if factory workers vote for the LCD on Saturday.
He added the time for a change in leadership had come for Lesotho.
He said those in government should prepare for their exit next week.
“Let’s go and change the leadership of this country on May 26, they’ve done their bit.
“Besides, there’s no rope long enough to tie a nation that doesn’t want to be tied. Let’s go and break those chains on May 26,” Metsing said.
Lesotho’s textile industry is the second largest employer after government and employs about 45 000 workers.
The textile workers are a key constituency in Lesotho’s politics.
In the last election in 2007 factory workers were largely aligned with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) which had formed an electoral alliance with the Lesotho Workers’ Party (LWP).
The Thetsane industrial area was the scene of violent clashes last month after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his Democratic Congress party attempted to hold a campaign rally.

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