Three shot as factory workers protest wage increase

Lehlohonolo Lebiletsa

HA THETSANE – Eye witnesses said four people were shot this morning as police tried to disperse restive factory workers agitating for a 20 percent wage increase.

Three of the victims are said to be factory employees while the other is a street vendor who was nearby.

Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said according to police reports, three people were shot by police during the protest, not four. He also said he was not sure if these were factory workers. 

Mopeli told this reporter to contact him tomorrow after further investigations.

Multitudes of textile workers at Ha Thetsane gathered today in front of Taiwan and Presitex factories protesting against a three percent annual wage increment, which they dismissed as a bluff.

They demand a 20% increment, insisting they would rather quit their jobs and search for something else than settle for less. 

In an interview this morning, one of the factory workers who chose to remain anonymous said they demand a 20 percent increment because their wages were not raised last year due to the corona virus, therefore they expected a more decent increment. 

“We were shocked to hear about the paltry increment we were given and therefore we decided to appeal to the government because we do not accept what they are offering. Bear in mind this is the same government with officials who have awarded themselves M5000 for petrol allowances on top of the huge salaries and perks they are already earning. We expect fair treatment as well,” he said. 

’Malimpho Mahane, another factory worker said they are willing to fight until something happens. 

Though she admitted that they are going to starve if they leave their jobs she said they would rather go home than work for an employer who does not value, love and respect workers.

“If we are going to starve to death, so be it, but we refuse to continue working under such a situation where we are treated like slaves by the very government that we have placed in power,” she said.

Ratia Ratia, an eye witness, told Public Eye online that after police shot the four people, they were only concerned about the injured street vendor and did show the same remorse to the three factory employees. Ratia alleged police simply watched the three lying down helplessly, until their colleagues helped them to get medical attention.

Attempts to speak to the workers’ employers at both firms were not successful as security prohibited all endeavours.

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