Issue 7-day ultimatum to respond
MASERU – The Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) has submitted a petition to the Office of the Prime Minister over complaints of alleged exploitation of its members comprising nurses and assistants which has remained unaddressed.
Secretary General of the association, ’Mamonica Mokhesi, said Basotho patients continue to suffer as the battle between nurses and nursing assistants working at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, popularly known as Tšepong, on one hand and the hospital management on the other drags on.
They, therefore, decided to seek Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s intervention.
“The prime minister, like us, has a responsibility to ensure that Basotho get the best quality health care. At this point we are failing and more lives are at risk due to the stalemate at Tšepong. We as an association want this matter attended to urgently and a long-term decision made,” she said.
They expect Majoro to give the LNA a platform to discuss their issues with him.
“We would appreciate an opportunity to discuss the issues at hand with the prime minister and we expect a response within seven days, although seven days is a long period for such pressing issues.
Innocent people’s lives are involved and we know that the prime minister holds the power to consult with all stakeholders in order to come up with a solution. We have been here before and this approached helped us,” she explained.
Citing some of their challenges, the association said nurses and nursing assistants earn different salaries yet they hold the same job positions and qualifications. LNA said a request to have salaries reviewed that was made in 2012 has still not been addressed to this day.
LNA added that Tšepong and the Government of Lesotho through its Ministry of Health have not taken any responsibility to mitigate this problem.
“The two parties agree that nurses are exploited yet our members remain cheap labour to the benefit of those two parties,” the letter stated.
Since Tšepong remains a COVID-19 centre, the association said unsafe working conditions remain a challenge and because salaries are low, nurses are unable to rent alternative accommodation in order to avoid going back to their homes where they could possibly infect them.
LNA added that some nurses have still not even received their risk allowance at all and that five of its members have lost their lives to COVID-19. LNA said at a court hearing held on February 24 the court had advised Tšepong and nurses’ representatives to resolve their labour issues with great urgency as nurses and nursing assistants offer essential health services.
However, the hospital has agreed to meet the LNA on Thursday.
“We requested a meeting and suggested Monday March 1. . . the association was shocked by Tšepong’s response that they can only have a meeting with LNA and the lawyers on Thursday March 4. Where is the urgency mentioned in court?” LNA said.