ANGRY FACTORY WORKERS BESIEGE MASERU

NTHETHE MAPHAONG

MASERU – Angry garment factory workers have since Tuesday evening blockaded roads leading into the city centre to press home their demands for increased pay. This is amid unconfirmed reports that a school child had been shot and injured during the morning fracas and had been taken to hospital.

Police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli this afternoon said police had not received the shooting report. This morning the workers – mainly women – poured into central Maseru, disrupting traffic as the rowdy protest moved from its epicenter in Thetsane, Masooe, Ha Tikoe and Station industrial areas.

The protestors had by lunchtime congregated at AME Hall. Government this morning deployed the army to disperse the marauding workers who had blocked roads with boulders, burning tires and all manner of debris they could marshal. The army fought running battles with the workers who scurried in all directions but regrouped to march onto the city centre.

The workers are hopping mad that employers have blocked a government decision to increase their wages M2 000. Employers approached the high court this week thus checking the government move, which would have resulted in implementation of a 2012 experts’ recommendation, suggesting a M2 000 minimum wage for the industry which employs nearly 45 000 workers.

May Rathakane, general secretary of IDUL, speaking on behalf of the 10-strong trade unions said today the factory workers would not relent until the government decision was affected.

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