Majoro makes yet another promise to workers


‘2021/22 minimum wage gazette by June 16’


MASERU –  Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has called on factory workers’ unions and workers to halt their ongoing industrial action – promising publication of the demanded 2021/22 minimum wage gazette by June 16.

Majoro made the plea in a national address over Lesotho Television on Wednesday, further indicating that the sought after publication will happen after the labour minister has looked into other grievances between both factory workers and their employers. The litany of grievances include the workers’ concerns disregarding implementation of labour laws by their employers.

This address follows a lengthily public and a call this week by the Alliance of Democrats (AD) on the government to address the factory workers’ grievances or release minister of labour and employment from office with immediate effect for failure to do his job.

In the statement the AD outlined several concern about factory workers protests that have brought to halt operations in the Maseru and Maputsoe industrial centres.

The opposition political party recommended for government to take immediate action on the matter and ensure that the minimum wage gazette is published and public property is protected against vandalism during the protests.

The AD noted that it has learned with great concern that the government had committed to  publishing the gazette but never delivered, pointing out that publication of the gazette is very important as most employers pay workers  only minimum wages despite affording more.

They further noted that despite the workers being paid a minimum wages, government has turned a blind eye to all their sufferings. “To date, government has not published the minimum wage gazette for 2020 and for 2021 for the factory workers. Government has not been publishing minimum wage gazettes as is required by law. This is violation of the workers’ rights. It is the workers’ to have their wages revised every year.

We have also found out that these workers that are being paid minimum salaries work very hard and for very long hours, especially now during this time of COVID-19; and they are being made to work without even following set COVID-19 safety protocols, ” reads the statement.

“Therefore, we ask the government to publish the minimum wage gazette for both 2020 and 2021 with immediate effect or release minister of labour and employment from his responsibilities if he fails to publish the gazette,” the AD noted.

Factory workers went on an industrial action that resulted in at least one person dying on Tuesday and others sustaining serious injuries.

The protest came after the government failed to publish the 2020/2021 minimum wage gazette as promised in the past week.

Trade Unions that include National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union(NACTWU), United Textile Employees(UNITE), Lesotho Workers Association(LEWA), Lentsoe la Sechaba Trade Union(LESWA), Construction, Mining and Quarry Trade Union (CMQ) and Lesotho Wholesale, Catering and Allied Workers Union(LEWCAWU) allege that due to ministry of labour’s negligence, workers have not been given their minimum wage increments for financial years 2020 – 2021 and 2021 -2022.

General Secretary of National Clothing, Textile & Allied Workers’ Union (NACTWU) S,am Mokhele,  told this reporter that they are not happy for not being given minimum wage increment for the mentioned years while the Wages Advisory Board  has completed its business on the March 24, 2020. He said as a result they demand minister of labour and employment to issue a gazette on minimum wage increment for the years with immediate effect.

The trade unions also showed concern on the operations of the Directorate for Dispute Prevention and Resolution, the Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court’s in handling workers cases, claiming that the courts of law have not being treating them fairly. The unions says these structures have, among other, failed to ensure that minister of labour passes the reviewed Labour Code order that was reviewed in 2006. They also demand the government to protect workers that are not covered by the minimum wage gazette, pointing out that failure to do so exposes workers to prejudice and exploitation.

“We are very much unhappy that the Minister and Ministry of Labour and Employment have not passed the reviewed Labour Code Order since 2206 to date. We demand the minister to fast track the coming into law of the Bill as it is beneficial to the workers, employers and the country as a whole.

“We are also not happy that the government is not being faithful to its obligation of protecting workers that are not covered by the minimum wages gazette. On several occasions we have presented before the wages board new sectors as we have realized that workers are being prejudiced by this but every time government is not adhering to any of our proposals,” the trade unions note.

However, in a communication between the Ministry of Labour and Employment and this publication, the ministry showed concern that the unions are confusing minimum wage increment and salary increment. The ministry said failure to differentiate between the two leads to workers not only being misinformed that the ministry has to offer them minimum wage increment every year but also causes confusion in the sector.

Public Relations officer at ministry, ‘Mamolise Falatsa, said minimum wage is the minimum salary a person should not be paid under and the ministry ensures that no worker is paid under the minimum wage at all costs, pointing out that minimum salary increment can be revised when the ministry sees a need.

She noted that what trade unions are currently fighting for is salary increment, which has nothing to do with the ministry but is between the employer and the employee.

“We try several times to explain minimum wage increment. Which is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their employees. Now the trade unions are misinterpreting the whole situation giving workers false hope that the ministry has to increase their salaries every year.

Yes, salaries can be increased, but it is a matter between the employer and employees. The two parties can sit down and negotiate salary increments, not us,” she said.

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