AN alliance of factory workers unions and taxi operators has lent its support to calls for Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to resign for “failing to protect jobs” under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) facility.
Addressing a press conference also convened by the political party youth leagues in Maseru yesterday, the unions and taxi operators said their future hung in the balance because of government’s failure to ensure Lesotho remained eligible for AGOA.
AGOA allows certain goods produced in eligible countries such as Lesotho duty-free entry into the United States market. The US government has warned Lesotho the “writing was on the wall” for Lesotho’s eligibility for AGOA and a second compact grant under the Millennium Challenge Corporation due to government’s failure to address issues of “impunity and the rule of law”.
The factory workers unions were led by Sam Mokhele, Seabata Likoti and Monaheng Mokaoane while the Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO) was represented by its spokesperson Makama Monese.
Mr Mokhele said the textile industry was a major beneficiary of AGOA and losing it would spell doom to the country’s economy as the sector employed an estimated 40 000 people.
“The possible AGOA eligibility loss will result in our already struggling economy collapsing and this will not only affect the textile workers but many other businesses. This is because the sector injects life into the economy on a monthly basis,” he said.
For his part, Mr Monese said the taxi operators he represents from the central region of the country were ready to support the youth leagues.
“We are ready to withdraw our taxis from the routes they serve on a daily basis to ferry people to and from work in support of the call made by the youth leagues,” he said.
“We realise that not only are the jobs of the textile workers in jeopardy but also masses of our clients would be laid off and our businesses would collapse in the transport industry.”
Mr Monese also took issue with the government over its decision to award a vehicle fleet contract to Bidvest Fleet Company.
“We are also still concerned about the government’s decision on the Bidvest deal as the transport operators and we want them to reverse the decision as it results in the erosion of our country’s little wealth to South African companies when we have local people who can do the job adequately,” he added.