14 percent wage hike for factory workers

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Bereng Mpaki

THE government yesterday gazetted a new minimum wage giving factory workers a 14 percent wage hike for the 2021/22 financial year.

The new salaries are with effect from next month.

Workers in other sectors outside the civil service have been awarded a nine percent salary increment.

With the average minimum wage in the factories currently at M2000 monthly, the wage hike means the workers will now earn M2280 each per month.

The increase comes on the back of a spirited strike by factory workers from 10 May 2021 to 7 June 2021 to press for wage increments.

They said they needed the salary increments to help them cope with the sharp increase in the cost of living since last year. They last got wage increments in the 2019/2020 financial year.

The strike was triggered by the government’s delay in publishing the new minimum wage after employers and workers had sharply differed on the new minimum wage.

The workers were demanding a 20 percent increment while the other sectors wanted 17 percent increase for the 2021/22 financial year. The employers were however, only prepared to offer a maximum of six percent wage hike.

The workers were also demanding the retrospective awarding of the 2020/21 financial year’s minimum wage adjustment. The workers were demanding a 20 percent salary increase while the employers were prepared to give them a seven percent increase. However, the government proposed a 5, 5 percent increment and the talks collapsed.

In the protracted industrial action, two workers died in clashes with the police and the army; while shops were looted and vandalised by angry workers in the Thetsane area.

The striking workers belonged to unions including the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL); National Clothing, Textile and Allied Workers Union, (NACTWU), United Textile Employees (UNITE), Lentsoe La Sechaba Workers Union and Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) among others.

In a statement yesterday, the Labour and Employment Ministry said the new minimum wage gazette was being published as promised by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro last month.

“The minimum wage adjustment for the 2021/22 is 14 percent for factory workers and nine percent for other sectors,” the ministry’s statement read.

“This minimum wage adjustment was arrived at by taking into consideration that there was no wage adjustment during the 2020/21 financial year. The new minimum wage will be effective from 1 July 2021.”

Lentsoe La Sechaba Workers Union secretary general, Monaheng Mokaoane, yesterday said they were yet to see the newly published gazette. He said they would consult their members once they had finished reading the gazette and get a directive from the workers.

“We will report what we will find in the gazette to our constituencies, and they will tell us what to do going forward,” Mr Mokaoane said.

On his part, Construction Mining Quarrying and Allied Workers Union (CMQ) secretary general Robert Mokhahlane welcomed the nine percent increase.

“When you go for negotiations, you can either get what you want or compromise. So, we did not get what we wanted in this case and we have no choice but to accept what we have been given,” Mr Mokhahlane said.

He however, expressed his shock that there was no mention of the retrospective awarding of the 2020/21 wage increment.

“I am surprised there is nothing on the back pay for the 2020/21 financial year,” Mr Mokhahlane said.

 

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