3 000 more factory workers to lose jobs

LESAOANA SEKETE and MATHATISI SEBUSI

 

MASERU – Following the closure of Glory Garments as a result of economic stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact, over 3 000 textile factory workers at sister company Nien hsing II face the axe. The Nien hsing II employees remain uncertain of their fate as workers.

A lot of controversy shrouds the factory, with speculation that firm has run out of orders, Public Eye has further learned that in light of the status quo the factory’s old and new sample of orders are being send to other factories such as C&Y Firm and Global Factories.

But making the entire situation more complex is that in the recent past the firm had just rehired people who were retrenched during the start of lockdowns last year, employees are continuously getting their score or target wages in the firm.

Employees are working and are being paid over time and weekly bonuses, according to findings, and this makes the employees play down the eventuality they are facing.

Speaking on the controversy, one of the employees who chose to remain anonymous told this paper that the situation is nerve wrecking. She revealed that there have been plentiful deliberations on Thursday that have lasted for two hours regarding the matter.

“The meeting was meeting was between the factory’s shop stewards, the workers, union representatives and the factory management…and talks have ended in vain and nothing fruitful came forth,” she said.

‘‘Up to now we do not know for sure what is happening, whether the factory is closing down or we will go for a short time or resort to layoffs. Only Ricky and the Taipei management knows but they won’t say it to the people, even the Human Resource personnel won’t say anything to us.

It is so sad that even the Taiwanese workers and some of the Chinese workers refer to us Basotho for answers fearing they are going to have to head back home because the current situation spells one thing, the closure of the factory,’’ she continued.

The paper got hold of an extract of a WhatsApp conversation screen shots between top management officials, stating that the factory has been sold and the new management will be coming in on the March 18 to commence work.

“What is going happen to the almost 3 000 current workers remain a mystery only known to the owners thus far,” the the employee.

Contacted for a comment, an official from one of Nien hsing group firms, Fomosa, who wanted to be anonymous noted that he was not in a position to comment on the matter as they are still in consultations with relevant trade unions about the ‘situation’ the firm is facing. He confirmed that they are having a sensitive situation the the firm is trying to resolve.

This publication contacted Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL) Deputy General Secretary, May Rathakane, on matter. He noted that Nien hsing II is struggling to get enough orders from its three American buyers.

Nien hsing group has five firms operating in the country and only Nien hsing II, which is the biggest of all is facing financial problems.

Rathakane said upon hearing the rumours that the firm plans to close its doors, they had a meeting with Nien hsing management that confirmed that the firm is struggling financially, citing COVID-19 restrictions, reduction in orders from their three American buyers and their lost 900 000 pieces of jeans as the core of their problems.

He said Nien Hsing II management denied planning to close or sell the firm, but alleged that such rumors were spread by Basotho supervisors.

Rathakane said they are in communication with the three American buyers to confirm Nien hsing’s claims, he said as of today (Thursday), they managed to talk to one of the buyers who confirmed that they reduced their order with Nien hsing, articulating that their market has been negatively affected by COVID-19.

He revealed that local trade unions have a two-year contract with the Nien hsing II’s buyers, and that binds them to buy the factory’s products for two years without fail.

He articulated that the contract was signed in February 2020 immediately after several cases of sexual harassment were reported in the textile factories.

According to him, the buyers committed themselves that for the two years they will buy the firms’ products and capacitate both workers and employers on sexual harassment issues. He said they will know the future of Nien hsing II next week Tuesday after their meetings with all stake holders.

“We also heard rumours that Nien hsing II is planning to close its doors. We contacted the firm about the rumors of which they denied. They told us that they are just experiencing shortage of orders and have lost 900 000 pieces of jeans that were supposed to be shipped to America.

“They further alleged that due to COVID-19 restrictions, they under produced as a result their relations with their buyers were affected.

“We are still not sure if Nien hsing is telling the truth, so far what we know is that their orders have been reduced due to market uncertainty. “We are yet to establish what actually the problem is there,” Rathakane said.

 

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