DDPR says Tšepong strike unlawful

DDPR says Tšepong strike unlawful

MASERU-THE Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) says the strike by Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital nurses is unlawful.
The DDPR also says Tšepong, the company that manages the hospital, “has every right to resort to disciplinary action for the striking workers should they continue with the strike without following the legal procedures”.

The findings are contained in a report the DDPR submitted to Labour Minister Moshe Leoma on Monday.
This was after Tšepong, whose 18-year contract is about to be terminated, fired 300 nurses and their assistants.
The DDPR says based on the history and analysis “the continuing strike at Tšepong (the hospital) may be regarded as an unlawful”.

It says this was because “there is no dispute referred” to it for determination and Tšepong is an essential service provider”.
“Lastly, even if they were not an essential service, the strike would still be regarded unlawful, as it has not met the legal requirements of a lawful strike,” says the report which was compiled after Minister Leoma instructed the DDPR to investigate the dispute.

The DDPR found that the situation in question at Tšepong, revolves around an “alleged dispute of interest”.
The DDPR says the procedure for prevention or resolution of a dispute of interest is conciliation with the aim of the conciliator to advise and help the parties to reach a settlement.

If successful, the conciliator helps the parties to draw a settlement agreement on the terms and conditions voluntarily agreed upon by them.
Where the parties fail to reach an agreement within 30 days the Labour Code provides that the parties may consent to arbitration or resort to a lawful strike.
The DDPR however, says the option to go on strike is “not available for the parties engaged in an essential service”.

The Labour Code says an essential service is “confined to undertakings that provide a service whose interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of all or any part of the population of Lesotho”.
The DDPR says it first attended to the disputes between Tšepong and workers in 2013 after it received a series of referrals from the employees and their unions.

In all these cases the workers either lost or matters are still in the conciliation stage.
“The aggrieved employees should refer a dispute to the DDPR in order for a Conciliator to be appointed to attempt to resolve the dispute,” the DDPR has recommended.
The DDPR explains that the minister has powers to appoint, in consultation with the Industrial Relations Council (IRC), a person to prevent or resolve any trade dispute by conciliation, if he believes that to be in the national interest.

“However, it is the DDPR’s observation and opinion, that the issues surrounding all these disputes need a broader perspective,” it reads.
It suggested a joint meeting of the Ministries of Health and Finance and Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“It is the DDPR’s view that unless the administrative terms and conditions surrounding the PPP agreement are revisited, there are likely to be recurring disputes between Tšepong and the workers,” it reads.
The DDPR also suggests that the Ministry of Labour may be co-opted as an advisor on employer-and employee-related matters.

Staff Reporter

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