Police to stage protest march over salaries

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) has resolved to stage a protest march in Maseru over several grievances including the delayed payment of salary increments.

The march, which is planned for the 25th of June, will begin at the Setsoto Stadium and end at the Moshoeshoe I monument where they will hand over a petition to Acting Minister of Police and Public Safety, Tefo Mapesela.

Discontent has been brewing in the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) after Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli allegedly turned down several requests for meetings with LEPOSA to discuss the delays in the payment of the six percent salary increments.

So serious has been the discontent that some members of the police union last month threatened to embark on a go-slow strike action if Commissioner Molibeli does not meet them to address their grievances.

The issue of the salary increments dates back to 2015, when the then government awarded a maximum six percent salary increment to the police service and this was given on a differentiated percentage grade which left out most of the junior officers.

Some ranks were awarded two percent while those in the ranks of Superintendent and Senior Superintendent were not given an increment.

The Commissioner of Police was allegedly awarded a 5, 5 percent increment, a move that was described as “unlawful, arbitrary and discriminatory” by the police union.

The Lesotho Times recently established that LEPOSA’s requests to discuss the salary arrears with Commissioner Molibeli have so far hit a brick wall with the top cop allegedly informing the staff association that their reasons for seeking the meeting were “not good enough”.

On 29 April 2019, LEPOSA wrote to the Commissioner demanding a meeting, and on 8 May LEPOSA’s General Secretary, Inspector Moraleli Motloli received a “letter of regret” from the Human Resource Officer identified as Mr Ralethoko.

“We regret to inform you that the request (for a meeting with the commissioners) has not been successful due to the fact that the reasons raised are not good enough to warrant the meeting,” part of Mr Ralethoko’s letter to Inspector Motloli states.

After this setback, Inspector Motloli again wrote to Commissioner Molibeli on 13 May and the letter was titled ‘Payment of the six percent salary increment arrears’.

“After several abortive attempts to get clarity or progress regarding the non-payment of the six percent (salary increments) from your good office, we wish to bring to your office that we are left with no other option but to seek assistance from other stakeholders. Nevertheless, we are still open to discuss this matter with your good office on the 16th May at 08.00hrs,” Inspector Motloli stated.

Although efforts to reach Inspector Motloli were fruitless at the time, he has previously said that the union was prepared to take the police authorities to court to get the salary increments.

“LEPOSA will approach the courts for contempt of court and evaluation of the six percent so that it keeps time with the inflation rate thus putting more debt on the government. We will go to court if that’s what is needed,” Inspector Motloli said.

He said they had been dealing with this issue since 2015, “When the previous regime arbitrarily and with total disregard to the rights of police officers denied to offer us the same”.

“All that we want is our six percent. The sooner the six percent is paid, the sooner the stalemate is resolved. We are very disappointed with the cavalier manner in which the office of the Minister of Police has handled this matter that involves the livelihoods of police officers. All that we want is our six percent. The sooner the six percent is paid, the sooner the stalemate is resolved,” Inspector Motloli added.

Yesterday, LEPOSA wrote to the Maseru District Commissioner of Police Maseru (Dispol) seeking permission to march on 25 June.

“Acting in accordance with the members’ request and the (LEPOSA) national executive committee resolution in its sitting on 12 June 2019, I wish to forward an application for the procession to petition the Police Authority (Honourable Tefo Mapesela) on the 25 June 2019 from 10am to 4pm regarding the following concerns of LEPOSA members:

  • The nonpayment of the six percent (salary increment) to police officers
  • Nonpayment of police risk allowance
  • Unavailability of police uniform and other resources
  • Unequal treatment of police officers
  • Imprecise command in the Ministry of Police
  • Punitive transfers of police officers

“The proposed route for this procession is Setsoto Stadium, Main North One, Main Traffic Circle, Mpilo to Sefikeng sa Moshoeshoe,” Inspector Motloli states in yesterday’s letter to the Maseru Dispol.

Mr Mapesela yesterday said he was aware of the planned march, adding LEPOSA members were well within their rights to petition the government.

 

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