The pain of the  last pay cheque

The pain of the last pay cheque

MASERU – HAVING worked for Loti Brick Company for 34 years, Thabo Pelaelo* says he felt dejected when he was slapped with the proverbial pink slip early June.
Loti brick laid off the entire staff for a month at the peak of its salary dispute with workers.
The lay-offs have triggered fears on the financial well- being of the workers, many who are their families’s sole breadwinners.

For Pelaelo, the bread winner in a family of eight that includes his wife, children and grandchildren, the situation has prompted jitters in the family.
“When I leave my family every morning, I feel the misery in the family,” he says, adding that the family is very worried about what will happen if the situation takes long to be resolved.
The 56-year-old has to join other workers to wait outside the factory premises every day.

Loti Brick laid off workers shortly after they demanded a 10 percent salary increment from their employer.
He said the company in April this year responded by offering a two percent increment. Despite workers lowering their demands to 5.6 percent, the company remained adamant, forcing Pelaelo and other workers to continue camping at the company gates.
He said workers are stunned that management awarded itself a hefty salary adjustment yet denies workers the same.

Robert Mokhahlane, secretary general for the Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers Union (CMQ), expressed concern that the case is taking long to resolve.
The matter has been filed with the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR), where it led to strike ballot – a secret vote by workers to decide whether to embark on a strike.
Mokhahlane said the company has served workers with letters instructing them to return to work but on shorter hours starting from 19th June to 25th July.
He said workers are rejecting the reduced hours offer.

Despite not working, the workers who are enduring the cold to camp at the company gate are expecting a full salary, said Mokhahlane, adding they will sue if the company fails to pay up the salaries.
Mokhahlane said some workers got their full salaries while others got half salaries. This, according to the workers, is unacceptable.
Loti Brick Managing Director Mosuoe Mapetla said the company is facing challenges that forced a slowdown in operations.

One of the major challenges involves the company’s South African supplier SASOL supplying fuel at a low rate, resulting in a shutdown of some machines, said Mapetla.
Mapetla said the company has decided to hire the workers on short time contracts as a way to resolve the situation since production has come to a halt.

He said some workers received half salaries because the new system started mid-month. The company cannot afford to pay full salaries when production is not taking place, said Mapetla.
“The salaries issue has also affected the management,” he said.
Mapetla says this situation is only temporary and the workers’ jobs are still safe and all matters affecting production would have been resolved by of the end of this month.
*Not his real name

 Refiloe Mpobole

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