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Avani staff turn to Thabane for help

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

SCORES of Avani Hotels employees yesterday gathered at former prime minister Thomas Thabane’s Makhoakhoeng home seeking that he negotiates with the government to provide them with wage subsidies.

The 90 Avani employees asked Mr Thabane to plead with the government to give them the industrial wage subsidy like it did with the factory workers.

The government subsidised each factory worker with M800 for May, June and July to mitigate their income losses.

The 90 even received food packages from former first lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane after they told her that they have been struggling for food for the last five months.

One of the employees, who spoke on conditions of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said they have sought audience with the government but that was in vain.

She said they decided to seek help from Mr Thabane to plead with government on their behalf.

“Our representatives have pleaded in vain with government to assist our employer by paying our salaries like it did with the factory workers. We are hungry and cannot keep up with paying rent and other debts,” she said.

“We are not undermining the government but we have come to Ntate Thabane because we desperately need help. We are grateful that Mme ‘Maesaiah gave us food but we cannot come back to her every time we run out of food. All we are asking for is for the government to help our employer in paying our salaries so that we can get back to work and pay our own debts.”

Mr Thabane briefly spoke to the workers and promised to deliver their message to the government.

The government owns a 53 percent stake in the two hotels. The remaining 47 percent stake is owned by international investor, Minor Hotels Group, through its subsidy AVANI Hotels and Resorts.

About 290 Lesotho Avani and Maseru Avani hotels were laid off in March this year on the back of the Covid-19 lockdown. During the lockdown which started at the end of March, hotels and other businesses that were classified as non-essential were ordered to close shop.

Avani Hotels general manager Willem Van Heerden said the hotel management was discussing with the government ways in which they could mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on their business.

“We have been in consultation with various ministries as well as the company’s board and we are looking at various options to see if we can mitigate the effects that Covid-19 is having on both the company and its employees,” Mr Van Heerden said.

He said the only business that they were getting was in the take away section but they were negotiating with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) to open their restaurants.

 

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