MASERU — Health workers at the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL)’s eight hospitals and 71 clinics on Tuesday downed tools while others went on a go-slow to press government to increase their salaries.
About 40 health workers that included nurses and pharmacy technicians at St James Mission Hospital downed tools while health workers at the Maluti Adventist Hospital in Mapoteng, St Josephs Hospital in Roma and Villa Maria located in Quthing and other clinics were all on go-slow.
They want government to increase their salaries to equal their counterparts in government-run hospitals and health centres.
Civil servants started enjoying improved salaries in May after government restructured their pay.
CHAL workers said several meetings with their managers and ministry of health officers to correct the anomaly were unsuccessful.
Lesotho Times has learnt that when the new salary structure was released by the ministry of the public service, some of the hospitals under CHAL’s control implemented the improved salaries assuming they were included in the new arrangement.
Last week they threatened to go on an indefinite strike to force the two parties to increase their salaries. The health ministry pleaded with the health workers not to go on strike, promising to work on their request.
“With this pledge the employees are asked not to go on strike for the sake of the patients because this matter is being given the urgency it needs,” read a press release.
When contacted for a comment CHAL’s Executive Secretary ’Malentsoe Ntholi said CHAL’s expectation is for government to pay all its employees remuneration packages commensurate to those of civil servants.
Ntholi emphasised this is due to the nature of the agreement the church organisation has with the Ministry of Health.
“Our staff expect to be enjoying similar benefits to those of their colleagues in government.
Ntholi insists whenever government officials enjoy benefits, those in CHAL hospitals and health centres expect the same.
“After the Principal Secretary asked us to provide his office with a detailed submission of the human resource we did.
“The detailed submission was submitted to his office in June.
“We have detailed clearly the funds we requested and what they are for in the submission as per the adjusted salary structure,” Ntholi.
Ntholi said it is her believe that government is working on CHAL’s submission.
Ntholi urged all CHAL employees to continue working and desist from going on strike for the best interests of all stakeholders as CHAL employees provide essential services.
“I want to believe that our relationship with the government is built on mutual trust for both sides and the government and our organisation.
“I also want to believe both sides do not want to see agreement soiled by the quarrels over salaries,” Ntholi said.
She however said all she knows is that negotiations with the government of Lesotho are in progress.
Government nursing assistants earn about M6 200 a month up from M3 600, while nurses and midwives who used to earn M6 600 are earning up to M9 200.