… COLEPE accuses government of rights violation



MASERU – The Coalition of Lesotho Public Employees (COLEPE) says the government’s failure to meet its obligation to pay public servants’ salaries for the month of April is a violation of the workers’ right that infringes not just them but their families and the general public. COLEPE issued the biting statement in Maseru on Monday this week on the occasion of the global celebration of International Workers Day.

They are a league of associations and unions established under the laws of Lesotho to represent public sector employees made up of the Lesotho Public Service Association (LEPSA), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU), Lesotho Principals Association (LPA), Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA), Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) and the Qiloane Nursing Assistants Association (QINUSA).

Following widespread speculation over delayed payment of public sector salaries, the government on April 21 issued a statement announcing possible delays in the payment of salaries for the month of April. A government circular from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Employment signed by acting ministerial Principal Secretary, ’Makhoabane Ledimo, regretted the delay that it attributed to systematic and technical problems encountered during implementation of new cost codes for merged ministries.

“Officers responsible for processing salaries have been and are working overtime and over the coming weekend to meet the deadline for payment of the salaries,” Ledimo said. In addition, Ledimo’s notice said, the 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment increase announced in the 2023/24 budget will be implemented in May, including the April arrears. The coalition has castigated the government on the status quo, pointing out that “it cannot be correct that public sector employees are going into the month of May while they have not been paid their April dues. The workers have personal financial commitments such as insurance and assurance policies and bank loans that they have to service each month end. “It is, therefore, government’s responsibility to shoulder the cost of all interest that may be charged as a result of the workers’ failure to service such on time.”

COLEPE notes that it most infuriating that this happens when the world recognises the labour-force through the celebration of International Workers Day, a clear indication that government “takes for granted the contribution of the work-force in the national economy, and this is evidenced by the same government’s failure to forward reasons for this unfortunate incident and outline how soon it will be redressed.”

The coalition has on several issues been on collision course with the government, the most recent being the demand for a massive 25 percent hike in the just ended 2022/23 financial year. This led police, nurses and teachers’ planning a protest march to force government to award them the increase. The strike was shelved after a ruling by High Court of Lesotho judge, Justice Molefi Makara, who ordered the workers and the executive to go back to renegotiate the matter out of court.  COLEPE had also sought a Constitutional Court bid for Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli to be directed to grant them permission to stage the march. COLEPE had planned the march for March 17, 2022, but it failed to kick-off after they were denied a permit by the police who cited then prevalent Covid-19 restrictions that barred holding of public gatherings such as protests.

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