THE secretary general of the Alliance of Progressive Trade Unions (APTU), Tšeliso Ramochela, this week demanded that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane should address the workers as they were responsible for voting him into the office.
Ramochela was speaking during the annual Workers’ Day commemorations at Pitso Ground in Maseru this week where Minister of Labour and Employment Keketso Rantšo was the guest of honour.
The International Workers’ Day is commemorated on 1 May the world over to celebrate the achievements of workers.
“We voted for a Prime Minister and he should not shy away from us today,” Mr Ramochela said.
“He should be the one addressing us and not you (Ms Rantšo). This should be the last time that we are being addressed by a minister. We voted for him.”
He also implored the workers that they unite so that they are treated with respect.
“So long as you are divided you will be treated as dogs,” Mr Ramochela said.
“Over the years political leaders have always divided us but we need to take control. We should work together from this day onwards.
“We are going to work closely with the minister to ensure that next year’s commemoration are held in unity and numbers.”
Ramochela said since the country is going through the reforms process, politicians should take a lead and reform how they relate with each other.
“We are in the reforms process and the first issue is to reform the way politicians address their cadres in their different forums. We would also want to see the Prime Minister addressing us and the restructuring the wages structure as the current one is outdated and needs to be reviewed,” Ramochela said.
He said this has to be done through the engagement of the wages board to negotiate for the workers.
Secondly, he said, unions should engage the sectoral bargaining councils to be part of the negotiations.
After the negotiations are completed, a gazette should then be published so that the wages are enforced.
He also appealed to the minister to ensure that the Workers’ day celebrations are taken seriously and the day is enforced.
“This country has been turned into a banana republic where employers do as they wish by forcing workers to work on holidays and this should stop,” he said.
The same sentiments were shared by representatives of other unions who graced the event, who all called for the unity of the working class.
For her part, Ms Rantšo also called for unity among the workers which she said would help them overcome their challenges.
Ms Rantšo said they have managed to engage two judges in the labour court an achievement which she said would help fast track labor disputes.
“We should all work as a team and not wait to fight all the time. I therefore applaud union leaders for engaging the government. We are still to have our meeting with the union leaders to determine wages increment,” Ms Rantšo said.