MASERU – Trade unions have taken the government to task, accusing it among others, of failure to issue minimum wage increment in the past two financial years, inefficiency of the courts of law and failure to issue the Social Security Bill.
The unions are further fighting for the release of the reviewed Labour Code Bill of 2006 and want the workers to be represented in designing of the COVID-19 regulations.
On Tuesday, an alliance of trade unions including the National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU), United Textile Employees (UNITE), Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA), Lentsoe La Sechaba Trade Union (LESWA) as well as Construction, Mining and Quarry Trade Union (CMQ) and Lesotho Wholesale, Catering and Allied Workers Union (LEWCAWU) expressed concerns over the government’s failure to deal with critical issues of concerns over the past years.
In a bid to persuade the government to respond positively to all these concerns, the workers have decided that on May 14, they will petition both Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro and the Minister of Labour and Employment Moshe Leoma.
“We are not happy that the workers have not been given a salary increase in 2020/21 for no good reasons while the Wages Advisory Board had completed its business on March 24, 2020. We want the minister to issue this gazette with immediate effect, retrospectively from April 1, 2021.
“We are not happy that workers were not given wage increments for 2021-22, which were due on April 1, 2021 because of negligence of the Ministry of Labour and Employment. We demand a gazette for 2021/22 to be issued immediately after the completion of the public comments,” NACTWU Secretary General, Sam Mokhele said during a joint media briefing on Tuesday.
Two weeks ago, three people we shot by police during a mass protest in an attempt to disperse protesting factory workers in Maseru over salary increments.
Among other things, the workers wanted the government to publish a gazette, which they argue was finalised in 2020 by the then Minister of Labour, Keketso Rantšo.
After the employee representatives and employers could not reach common ground, the minister has to act as a middleman and make a decision on the matter before releasing a gazette.
The employers were offering only six percent salary hike while the employees demanded a 20 percent increase.
“We are unhappy that the government is not doing its obligation of protecting workers who are not covered by the minimum wage gazette. On several occasions, we have presented before the wages board news sectors as we have realised that workers are being prejudiced but every time, the government ignores our proposals. We demand that the minister arrange Wages Advisory Board meetings to deliberate on all proposed issues that are in the best interests of the workers and their welfare,” Mr Mokhele added.
Unions further want the Ministry of Labour to pass the reviewed Labour Code Order of 2006. They contend that the Minister of Labour should fast track the issuance of this bill as it is beneficial to the workers, employers and the country as whole.
They also want government to issue the Social Security Bill which they argue, could have helped workers during devastating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are also unhappy with the way the COVID-19 regulations are being made as they collide with the supreme law which is the Labour Code and therefore prejudicing the workers in the process. We demand that the workers be represented in the making of these regulations by NACOSEC,” Mr Mokhele further noted.