Mobile clinic for factory workers

Mobile clinic for factory workers

Staff Reporter


WHEN ’Mantina Mphohle failed to turn up for work, her employer at one of the sprawling clothing factories in Maputsoe deducted two days’ pay from her monthly wage.

The factory imposes a strict “no-work, no pay policy” that has been a real thorn in the flesh for the workers.

Even when they are genuinely sick, most find themselves dragging themselves to work to avoid the punitive penalties.

Mphohle, 31, was hit by a car recently and had to be away from work on sick leave for two days. She was not paid for those two days.

“You can imagine how disappointed I was when I realised my salary had been cut for the two days that I was away from work,” she says.

But thanks to a new initiative to set up a mobile clinic at the Maputsoe factories, Mphohle will not face the nightmare of having their wages garnished for absenteeism.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), supported by the Maputsoe Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Health Facility, recently set up a mobile clinic to provide services to factory workers.

Mphohle says she can now visit the mobile clinic during the lunch break.

The mobile clinic operates at the factories five days a week.

“I am very happy that I will now get the services free of charge just outside my work place,” she says.

Also ecstatic was 18-year-old Kholu Jonathan who was queuing for a job at the factories.

“The mobile clinic is very helpful to us, especially since we are not employed yet,” she says.

The head of Maputsoe SDA clinic ’Makhabisi Polane says at one time the clinic had to help a woman deliver a baby when she had never visited a health facility during her pregnancy.

“There was no clinic, no baby clothes, nothing. The mother claimed her factory bosses had refused her permission to visit the clinic,” Polane says.

The mobile clinic will address problems of this nature. The clinic will offer sexual and a reproductive health services package which includes family planning, antenatal clinic, condom distribution, HIV testing as well as prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

Polane says workers from 22 factories as well as those queuing for jobs and the nearby community will be served by the mobile clinic.

She believes the mobile clinic will benefit the factory workers who work long hours and hardly ever get time to visit a clinic.

The UNFPA representative, Therese Zeba Kobeane, says Lesotho’s textile and garment industry employed a significant proportion of Lesotho’s population and about 80 percent of this population are women.

Lesotho’s textile factories employ over 35 000 Basotho, the majority of them women.

Kobeane says access to healthcare by these factory workers, especially women, is still a big challenge.

Their healthcare needs include antenatal care, referrals for delivery, postnatal care, and management of STIs and availability of family planning services including condoms.

Getting Services in mobile clinicShe says the UNFPA and UNAIDS with support from the European Union and the governments of Sweden and Norway had sourced the mobile clinic to support the factory workers under the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV Linkages Project.

“We have realised that the Maputsoe industrial area is very populated with about 22 factories and there is a lack of health services provided in this area. The mobile clinic provides workers with services on a daily basis delivering a package of SRH and HIV services,” she says.

The mobile clinic is a client-oriented strategy which aims to provide quality integrated health services closer to the beneficiaries.

It was developed under the Joint UNFPA/UNAIDS SRH/HIV prevention services linkages programme through the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV Linkages project which is funded by the European Union, the governments of Sweden and Norway and coordinated by UNFPA.

The purpose of the partnership is to respond to the needs of women working in garment factories who have limited access to quality sexual, reproductive health and HIV prevention services.

Hopefully, due to the mobile clinic, no woman shall ever have to lose a day’s salary because of having to visit a health facility.


Lesotho factory workers:


Key Data

There are currently 39 garment and 2 footwear factories operating in Lesotho which employ around 40 800 workers. The sector is the most important formal provider of jobs and incomes in the country. It is of particular importance for women as 80-85 percent of Lesotho’s garment workers are female. Factories are foreign direct investment operations, owned and managed by investors from Taiwan, mainland China and South Africa.

About 57 percent of Lesotho’s population lives below the poverty line and unemployment stands at 25.3 percent (based on latest available official survey data from 2008). Youth unemployment is at 47 percent. The HIV infection rate among garment workers is estimated to exceed 40 percent.

Minimum Wages

Lesotho’s minimum wage for the sector is set annually by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. A Wages Advisory Board, consisting of unions, employer and Labour Ministry representatives, proposes a wage increase to the Labour Minister for consideration and approval. In 2013-2014 sector wages per month for workers with more than 12 months with the same employer amount to M1 143.00 for trained machine operators and M1 076.00 for textile general workers (i.e. guards, admin and clerical workers, messengers). Monthly minimum wages for workers with less than 12 months with the same employer are lower: trained machine operators are paid M1 045.00 and textile general workers M972.00. –



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