Unions demand M2000 minimum wage


Mohalenyane Phakela

A COALITION of seven trade unions is demanding a minimum wage of M2000 for all workers.

This translates into a 47 percent salary increase for textile workers and 15 percent for workers in other sectors.

The unions further implored government to classify mining separately from the construction sector, claiming that most mining companies often register under the construction sector to avoid paying higher wages.

The trade union coalition comprises of the Independent Democratic Unions of Lesotho (IDUL), UNITE, National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU),Lesotho Wholesalers Catering and Allied Workers Union (LEWCAWU), Lentsoe la Sechaba, Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) as well as Construction, Mining and Quarrying (CMQ).

Lebonejoang Molefi, the spokesperson of LEWCAWU, recently told the media that the government ignored the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that workers earned a minimum wage of M2000 by 2017, up from the current M1416.

“In January this year, we submitted a proposal to the government to establish new sectors in industry and to review salaries for the next financial year starting on 1 April 2018 and we are waiting to see if the suggestions will be taken on board,” Mr Molefi said.

“In 2012 Lesotho and the ILO conducted a study and the report stipulated that the basic salary in 2012 should have been M1416 and M2000 by 2017.

“But the workers never received the salary increment and it is only those in the wholesale sector that get salaries close to that figure. All sectors should get salary increments to get to M2000.”

The deputy secretary general of the IDUL, May Rathakane,  accused employers of hiding behind false claims of operational challenges whenever workers demanded salary adjustments.

“Whenever workers demand salary increments, employers often state that they do not have means to pay such salaries but they never produce the financial records to prove their claims. We therefore appeal for a commission of inquiry to audit the financial reports of these companies.

“It is no secret that the foreign companies exploit cheap labour. However, we plead that they pay workers salaries that they can survive on,” Mr Rathakane said.

NACTWU secretary general, Samuel Mokhele, also complained about “unbearable” conditions of employment in which workers were often denied maternity leave.

“If a factory worker has been employed for less than a year, she is not entitled to maternity benefits which is not fair. Those who have been employed for more than a year only get six weeks whereas in other professions they get 12 paid weeks.

“Apart from that they are only afforded maternity leave only twice which means that the employer has the power to plan the employee’s family.

The law stipulates that a child’s sick leave also applies to the parent but workers are not allowed paid leave when their children fall sick, forcing them to abandon their jobs to take care of the sick at home,” Mr Mokhele said.

Efforts to get the Minister of Labour and Employment, Keketso Rantšo, were fruitless as her phone went unanswered.

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