Unions put strike on hold

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — A coalition of trade unions, business groups and other pressure groups that organised a three-day stay away last month has resolved to put any further protests on hold.
Daniel Maraisane, the secretary general of the Lesotho Clothing and Workers Union (Lecawu), said they have suspended protests after meeting Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
The coalition met Mosisili last Thursday.
“He gave us a warm welcome. He listened to our grievances and appointed relevant ministers to address the issues,” Maraisane said.
Maraisane said they had resolved to put their plans for further protests on hold pending the outcome of meetings with relevant ministries directed by Mosisili to address their grievances.
“The coalition committee will meet on Tuesday to set the time frame and strategies for the meetings with the appointed ministers,” he said.
The prime minister on August 30 wrote to the coalition agreeing to meet them after they threatened to call a bigger stayaway if he did not address their grievances.
Last month the coalition had a three-day strike that was followed by a massive protest march to force Mosisili to address their issues.
Top of the long list of their grievances was that government must immediately review taxi fares by 100 percent and reverse its decision to freeze civil service jobs this year.
Taxi operators also wanted the government to suspend its plans to construct toll gates along Lesotho’s main roads.
Trade unions said they wanted the government to increase the minimum wage in the textile industry and allow women working in that sector to enjoy the same maternity leave conditions as workers in other sectors.
The majority of textile workers earn about M900 which they want increased to about M2 020 per month.
Business groups want foreigners to concentrate on huge enterprises and leave small businesses for Basotho.
Youth organisations wanted the state to sponsor all colleges and courses.
The coalition demanded that the block farming scheme be audited.
The block farming scheme was a revolving fund established by the government to help small-scale farmers.
There have been allegations that some senior government officials have failed to pay back the millions they borrowed from the fund which is run by a local bank.

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