PM promises wage hike

PM promises wage hike

MASERU – FACTORY workers will receive a nine percent wage increase within months if the Democratic Congress (DC) wins the June 3 general election, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has promised.

The DC leader is hoping to win over voters ahead of the polls by pledging to improve the lives of the 40 000-strong workforce in the garment, textile and footwear sector, the most important provider of formal jobs and incomes in Lesotho.

A nine percent hike would see the minimum wage increase by nothing more than M200. Yet even that measly amount could make a difference for factory workers who live on a shoestring.

He was addressing hundreds, mostly factory workers, who attended his two rallies in the Thetsane and Maseru West industrial areas on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Mosisili, if re-elected, also promised the young and reproductive factory workers that his government would revamp the labour laws to ensure paid maternity leave is put in place.

“I see you every day when you go to work that you need to have paid maternity leave,” he said.
“You have to be like those in the public sector,” he added. Civil servants are guaranteed paid maternity leave in the law.

Mosisili said his party was planning to establish a Social Security Fund which would draw monthly contributions from the government, employers and employees.

The fund, he said, would cater for workers when they have lost their jobs until they are employed again.
Mosisili said his government was also going to set up a medical aid scheme for the employees’ benefit.
He admitted it was not the first time he was promising factory workers better working conditions, but he vowed to do it differently this time around after previously failing to deliver on similar pledges.

Meanwhile, the DC leader said the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) is still retained in Lesotho because the country has upheld good governance which is a yardstick used by the United States government.

AGOA is the US government policy allowing goods from sub-Saharan African countries to enter into the US market duty-free.
“Where will these thousands of people go if we lose AGOA?” he asked.

There are roughly 40 000 Basotho employed by the textile industry in Lesotho.
Mosisili claimed some political parties were spreading unfounded lies that AGOA was going away.
He said he had worked hard to ensure that AGOA stays in the country.

“After succeeding to sign for the US money that was used to build toilets and improve clinics in the country, some politicians went to the US Embassy saying the money should not come through,” Mosisili said.

He warned that the forthcoming election was akin to choosing between life and death.
The DC and its allies, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), have signed a pact to rally behind a single candidate in 80 constituencies.

Under the coalition arrangement, the DC will field 54 candidates while the LCD will stand in 25 constituencies and the PFD in one.
The approaching polls, called after Mosisili lost a no-confidence motion in parliament in March, will mark the third time in five years that Lesotho has held a general election.

Majara Molupe

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