Road construction faces more labour disruptions

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Bereng Mpaki

 

WORKERS on the M900 million Marakabei to Monontša road construction project in Butha Buthe will tomorrow down tools over salary hike demands.

The workers had in March 2022 agreed to suspend the strike to give their employer, China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC), a chance to address their demands.

However, the employer last month informed the workers it was abandoning the negotiations.

Represented by the Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers Union (CMQ) in the wage dispute, the workers in November 2021 petitioned the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) to compel their employer to address their grievances.

The workers want the wages for unskilled labourers to be increased from M14 to M25 per hour. They want the wages of semi-skilled labourers to be increased from M24 to M76 per hour.

They want to be paid transport, housing, and food allowances of M1500, M1200 and M1400 per month, respectively.

The workers also want new open-ended employment contracts that will end upon the completion of the project.

Therefore, they approached the DDPR with the above grievances in November 2021 and were heard in February 2022 but there was no agreement between the two parties.

The union then expressed the workers’ interest to embark on an industrial action. One hundred and thirty-two employees voted in favour of the strike in February while 22 voted against it. Only 154 of the company’s 300 workers participated in the voting process.

The strike then started on 15 to 16 March 2022 with no production taking place. But it was called off after the employer agreed to come to the table.

CGC was awarded the M900 million tender by the government in 2018 to construct the 60-kilometre road, which will also establish another link between Lesotho and South Africa. The works involve plant design and upgrading the dirt road surface to bitumen.

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