Govt’s 4.5% pay raise falls short of COLEPE’s demands



MASERU – In response to the plea from civil servants, particularly the Coalition of Lesotho Public Employees (COLEPE), for a 25 percent salary increase, the government has accommodated an automatic notch increase, comprising 2.5 percent plus a 2 percent salary adjustment across the board. The announcement was made by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr. Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, during the budget speech for the fiscal year 2024/2025 in parliament on Wednesday.

While emphasising the importance of reducing the wage bill to acceptable levels, the minister acknowledged the necessity of comprehensive public sector reforms. These reforms aim to enhance the welfare of staff and improve their capabilities to manage, lead, and perform technical work.

Despite facing a tight fiscal imperatives in the medium term, the government decided to effect a two percent salary increase across all boards. In line with this adjustment, the Old Age Pension will also see a M50 increase, effective April 1, 2024. In the preceding fiscal year (2023-2024), the government had adjusted salaries and wages by 2.5 percent across the board.

COLEPE expressed disappointment in the salary negotiation and bargaining process, as indicated in their letter to the Ministry of Public Service. They demanded a signed agreement with the government by January 19, 2024, aligning with their request for a 25 percent salary increase.

The fear was that the 2024–2025 budget might be presented without addressing their concerns. In an interview with Public Eye, Letsatsi Ntsibulane, the General Secretary of the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), criticised the government’s approach.

He argued that the notch system is not applicable to everyone, citing teachers as an example. He said 80 percent of Lesotho teachers are already at the bottom, and the 2.5 percent increase is insufficient for them.

Ntsibulane expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response, considering that teachers were promised a commitment to expedite the formation of the Public Sector Bargaining Council in preparation for the 2024–2025 salary increase.

COLEPE, comprising organisations such as the Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA), Lesotho Public Service Staff Association (LEPSSA), Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU), Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA), Qiloane Nursing Assistants Association (QINUASA), and the Lesotho Schools Principals’ Association (LESPA), remains committed to advocating for their demands. 

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