THE Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has resolved to lay off 161 workers due to funding challenges.
In a statement this week, EGPAF said the retrenchments are with effect from 30 September 2020. Those affected include pharmacy technicians, social workers and records assistants.
“Due to funding reductions for the upcoming project year starting on 1 October 2020, it was necessary for EGPAF to make the difficult but unavoidable decision to reduce operational costs including staffing levels in Lesotho, affecting a total of 161 staff members,” EGPAF said in its statement.
“While we understand how challenging retrenchment can be, EGPAF engaged in an open, transparent process throughout. Specific criteria (for retrenching) was developed in consultation with staff and shared widely. The criteria focused first on performance, and secondarily, on years of service.”
The move has sparked anger and dissatisfaction among those affected. Some of the affected workers have alleged that the process of identifying those who should be retrenched was marred by lack of transparency and corruption.
They alleged that some of their colleagues only retained their jobs after paying bribes to retain their jobs in the organisation whose main mandate is to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in children “through the implementation of HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes, advocacy and research”.
EGPAF has denied the allegations.
“EGPAF takes allegations of bribery very seriously and upon review, we have no reason to believe that any such behavior has taken place,” EGPAF said in its statement.
“We approach our work with honesty, transparency and accountability. Furthermore, we demand the highest ethical standards from our staff and partners in support of our important mission, the populations that we serve and the resources that we steward.”
EGPAF spokesperson ’Makopano Letsatsi also denied the corruption allegations.
Ms Letsatsi said although the job cuts were a tough decision to make and losing one’s job in these tough times was “frustrating”, EGPAF was a reputable entity which would not engage in corruption when implementing its decisions.
“We always engage in a very open and transparent process before we take any decision. We totally understand the frustration of those who have been retrenched but their allegations are nothing to go by,” said Mrs Letsatsi.
“The decision to implement the job cuts started in June and there were extensive consultations with staff. Employees whose roles are no longer tenable will be allowed to go by 30 September and all affected staff will be paid their terminal benefits.
“Counselling sessions were provided to all staff members at each stage of the consultations. Affected staff were also provided with coaching in respect of their future endeavours, including in personal financial management, basic entrepreneurship skills and career counselling.”
She said EGPAF would continue to support the health ministry to offer comprehensive HIV and Tuberculosis services to the nation.