Hotel group calls for end to wage dispute


Rethabile Pitso

SUN International Lesotho (SIL) General Manager, Riaan Van Rooyen, has expressed disappointment with the “negative” image locked-out Lesotho Sun and Maseru Sun hotel workers are portraying to visitors and the international community at large, and is calling for a speedy resolution to the protracted wage dispute which resulted in the drastic action by management.

Management on 22 December 2014 barred some of the staffers from entering the hotels following failed salary negotiations, and the case is now before the Labour Court where it remains unresolved.

However, the affected workers have since been reporting for work and spend the day seated just a stone’s throw away from the Lesotho Sun Hotel entrance, which Mr Van Rooyen said is not good for the company’s reputation.

“As a company, we would want to settle the dispute; we are not proud of the situation we find ourselves in with some of our staff outside,” Mr Van Rooyen told a media briefing held at Lesotho Sun on Monday this week.

“It is not good for the reputation, or the image, of the company at all and with the prevailing political environment in Lesotho, it is also not good for the country because with the elections coming up next month, we have a lot of high-profile people staying here and the international media making news of this situation.

“It is a big concern as no employer wishes to be in a position we currently find ourselves in.”

Mr Van Rooyen further pleaded with the workers to end their “resistance” to management’s new contract-offer and return to work for the sake of restoring normalcy to the hotel chain.

The management, Mr Van Rooyen further said, was willing to take back the locked-out members on condition they abide by the terms of the new contract which include a pledge not to take part in any industrial action during their tenure at SIL.

Mr Van Rooyen also said Sun International could not afford the salary increase the workers were demanding, as the company was “not in a good financial state to implement the increase”.

The workers, according to a document the Lesotho Times has managed to obtain, had requested a nine percent salary increase across the board. However, the hotel had offered five percent with conditions that no meals and night transport would be availed as was previously the case.

According to the document, the workers, through their representatives, National Union of Commerce, Catering and Allied Workers (NUCCAW) subsequently proposed 8.7 percent, then 6 percent, until the union came down to 5.7 percent. However, the management agreed to a 5.7 percent but on certain conditions.

Meanwhile, according to Mr Van Rooyen, the two hotels’ operations had not been affected by the lockout due to the employment of more casual workers.

Contacted for comment, NUCCAW President Tšeliso Ramochela told the Lesotho Times he could not say much on the case as it was now before the court.

“What I can only say is that the management is unwilling to abide by Lesotho’s conditions of employment,” Mr Ramochela said.

Government, through the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and Ministry of Finance, owns 53 percent shares in SIL, which currently employs 402 staffers. Sun International owns the remaining 47 percent shares.

However, Sun International has since sold its stake to Minor International Public Company (MINT), which takes over in February 2015.



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