Workers want Rantšo fired

Workers want Rantšo fired

MASERU – WORKERS urged Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to fire Labour Minister Keketso Rantšo whom they accuse of taking sides with employers.
Hundreds of workers who marched from Pope John Paul II’s Podium to Moshoeshoe I Statue Park on Monday said Rantšo is not serving their interests but those of companies.

They said they wanted her out of cabinet.
Their gripe with Rantšo is that she favoured employers when she decided to increase the minimum wage by 7 percent, the same figure employers had proposed to the Wages Advisory Board which has the legal mandate to advise the Labour Minister.

The workers were pushing for a 15 percent salary bump in other sectors but insisted on M2 000 as a minimum wage for textile workers.
In 2012 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said the living wage in Lesotho should be M2 500 and the then government, still led by Thabane, promised to set the new wage at M2 020.

But the minimum wage for textile workers remains at M1 500 six years later.
The workers also told Thabane that Rantšo was supposed to have published a government gazette announcing the new increments she had approved on May 1.

That was the day Rantšo was heckled during May Day celebrations as she tried to address workers.
She did not even finish her speech when the irate workers started hurling insults at her and she left the Maseru Central Park under heavy security.

“In light of these things, the Right Honourable Prime Minister, we beseech you to expel the Minister of Labour and Employment immediately,” the workers told Thabane.

“The Minister of Labour and Employment seems to care less about this situation of wages of slavery that are very low and the bad working environment that leaves workers’ health at risk,” they told Thabane.
They told Thabane to “act on these grievances and implement them within seven days”, that is from last Monday.

Rantšo, who is said to be sick, was not present to receive the workers’ letter of grievances.
Her phone went unanswered for the past three days.

Responding to the protesters, Thabane said he did not know why Rantšo was absent.
“She did not tell me that she was taking any leave. How do you say I should expel someone who has expelled herself,” Thabane said.

As he said this, some protesters booed him saying he was not serious about their plight because “you have a similar way of thinking with this minister of yours”.
Thabane had to call them to order, saying they “are children who disobey their elders”.

The President of (National Clothing and Textile Workers Union (NACTWU) Khethang Machaha Suthisi said it is embarrassing that the minister did not even come to collect the petition.
“We are pleading with you the Prime Minister to talk to her,” he said.
Machaha Suthisi also called on Rantšo “to resign from work immediately because you do not care about our lives and our families”.

The President of the Independent Democratic Unions of Lesotho (IDUL), ’Mathabo Mohobelo, said the gazette for private sector minimum wage was supposed to operate from 1 July 2018 but “until today the minister has not published it”.

“The Minister’s intention is to see workers poorer,” she added.
One textile worker Nthabiseng Mokhesi said she is paying fees for her two kids and she cannot afford other immediate needs because of her low wage.

“I do not even have a husband. I do it all by myself but since everything is now expensive I find it hard to raise my children,” she said.

She also said they are aware that transport fares are going to be hiked soon therefore it is going to be harder to get to work.
“Even the rent is soaring, I do not know what to do,” she added.

Thabane said because this matter affects many people he will work on it as quickly as possible.
Thabane also said he will get back to the workers after 14 days as the constitution of Lesotho states.
“Then I will keep the trade unions updated about this issue,” he added.

Majara Molupe

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