Peeved LTTU leaves COLEPE in a huff


. . . as public employees union plans march today’


MASERU – The Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union (LTTU) has made the decision to withdraw from the Coalition of Lesotho Public Employees (COLEPE) with immediate effect. In a letter dated February 13, 2024, addressed to COLEPE, LTTU’s General Secretary, ’Mamoholoane Folene, and President, Mafokane Ramakhula, explained that the withdrawal follows careful consideration and deliberations within its national council.

The letter highlighted significant tensions within COLEPE, especially regarding strategy, tactics, and the systematic exclusion of LTTU from meaningful engagements.  Despite their commitment to collaborative efforts, it became evident that the relationship within this arrangement had deviated from collective decision-making and grassroots involvement.

“As a trade union driven by a definitive mandate from our leadership and membership, we prioritise representing the interests of our members above all,” the letter stated. “Therefore, with deep regret yet unwavering conviction, we hereby officially withdraw our participation in COLEPE. This decision is not taken lightly but is deemed necessary to uphold the values and principles that guide our organisation’s actions.” This withdrawal comes just days before the scheduled coalition march, organised to take place today (Friday), in the fight for a 25 percent salary increment for civil servants.

COLEPE, comprising several groups including LEPOSA, LEPSSA, LAT, LESPA, QINUASA, LNA, and the now former member, LTTU, plans to present a petition at the Prime Minister’s office during the march.

To address their concerns, COLEPE intends to deliver the petition to the Prime Minister’s office today, and they have scheduled a nationwide demonstration. Despite negotiations between the government and the association, no agreement has been reached regarding the salary increase, which COLEPE has been advocating for since 2022.

“After the government reneged on the bargaining process, the Prime Minister (Samuel Matekane) was issued with a letter bringing his attention to the collapsed negotiations, which he unfortunately ignored,” stated COLEPE’s statement.

“Meanwhile, effective from Monday, February 12, 2024, all members will be ‘busy’ in all public sectors in preparation for the (upcoming) demonstration.” In an interview with Public Eye, the Secretary General at COLEPE, Motebang Leboela, said they believe that the government is intentionally stalling by requesting additional time to address the matter of a 25 percent increase in salaries, which the government had previously agreed to. “Despite our initial approach to the new government, the Prime Minister requested that we postpone our request as he was still adjusting to his new role.

“Surprisingly, we have yet to receive any assurances or promises to this day,” she said, adding that the government has done nothing to address their grievances. Leboela added that the denial of the permit by the Maseru municipality to march is a way for the government to delay their request.

However, COLEPE is still planning a peaceful march to hand over the petition to the PM.  Looking back, in 2022, the coalition wrote to then Prime Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro, requesting that he ensure that the 2022–2023 financial estimates guarantee an increase in their salaries of not less than 25 percent.

COLEPE demanded that, effective April 1, 2022, the government should implement a threshold at which income earners become liable for income tax when the salary is increased or raised to M48,000 per annum, with a tax return of M1,300, as the current threshold has remained unchanged for some years.

Apart from the salary increment, the workers also demand the establishment of a bargaining council and an overhaul of the current pension fund structure.  Leboela concluded: “To this day, our concerns have not been adequately addressed.”

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