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Union threatens lawsuit over wages


Tokelo Rasephei/Lijeng Ranooe

A TRADE union, the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL) says it will approach the courts to stop government from gazetting a seven percent wage increment for factory workers.

The union wants the nine percent increment that was promised by the former government.

The IDUL is one of the labour unions that expressed displeasure over Labour minister, Keketso Rantšo’s intention to gazette seven percent as the minimum wage adjustment instead of the nine percent former Labour minister, Thulo Mahlakeng, had said would be effected for the 2017/18 financial year.

Government has since defended its position arguing that the seven percent minimum wage adjustment was agreed on by employers’ and workers’ representatives at the annual negotiation process done through the Wages Advisory Board (WAB).

The WAB is a statutory body established in terms of the Labour Code Order No. 24 of 1992. Section 48 (1) and it is mandated to advise the Labour minister on the wages and conditions of employment of workers.

It comprises of representatives of workers, employers, Central Bank, Bureau of Statistics and a Senior Economic Planner.

It is chaired by the Labour minister with the Principal Secretary of the labour ministry as deputy chair.

However, the IDUL recently addressed workers at the Thetsane industrial area in Maseru where they insisted the seven percent increment fell short of the nine percent they expected as promised by Advocate Mahlakeng.

IDUL deputy secretary general, May Rathakane, said the seven percent increment was not satisfactory to the least paid factory workers whose minimum wage could not cater for their daily expenses.

“We plan to approach the courts for an order to stop the seven percent increase from being gazetted”, Mr Rathakane said.

“Advocate Mahlakeng agreed to testify in the case as he was the one who announced the nine percent increase”.

IDUL senior organiser, ‘Mopa Letseka, urged Ms Rantšo to consider the plight of women who made up the majority of the factory workers.

“I find it unsatisfactory that women are not given the right to fully paid maternity leave and they are even forced to conceal their pregnancies.

“Alternatively, they are forced to go back to work much earlier leaving their babies while they are still too young to be separated from their mothers.”

For their part, the workers pleaded with government to give them at least a nine percent, saying they were finding it difficult to support their families on the current wages.

One of the factory workers, Marealeboha Matsemela, said “we are not satisfied with our wages”.

“We work under very harsh conditions and we plead with the minister to consider awarding the nine percent increment,” she said.


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