MASERU — Textile unions are planning a massive strike after negotiations between the unions and employers collapsed last week, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Negotiations collapsed after employers offered a 7.5 percent wage hike while the unions were holding on to M1 500 a month.
The 7.5 percent hike translated to a mere M67.50 wage increase, enough to buy nine loaves of the cheapest quality bread.
The workers are currently earning M900 a month.
The unions were initially demanding M2 020 but slashed their demand to M1 500 in a compromise deal. But despite the compromise the employers still refused to play ball, according to the unions.
Factory Workers Union (Fawu) secretary general, Macaefa Billy, who is also the Lesotho Workers Party leader, criticised employers who he accused of rejecting a proposal by the Central Bank of Lesotho that workers could be paid a minimum of M1 400 a month.
Billy said an International Labour Organisation expert had also suggested M2 114 as the minimum wage.
“We all believe that there has to be wage restructuring which at the end will define properly the living wage,” he said.
“Employers say they will be able to pay M1 400 after five years from now.”
A representative of employers in the Wages Advisory Board, Nkopane Monyane, said both textile employers and unions are “failing the poor workers by not negotiating wages at the workplace and turning the Wages Advisory Board into a negotiation forum”.
“The board was supposed to have advised the (labour) minister but it hasn’t because they have failed to negotiate,” he said.
“I believe and understand that the unions should initiate wage increases for workers who are already in employment and leave the minimum wage issue to the board.”