MASERU — Workers at Sun International Lesotho have threatened to down tools next Thursday unless they get a 15 percent salary hike and a pay “shortfall” dating back five years. Sun International runs two of Lesotho’s top hotels — Lesotho Sun Hotel and Casino and Maseru Sun Cabanas. The workers said management had only offered a 6.7 percent salary increment which they said is too low. They said even when they went down to 10 percent management had still refused to budge.
The workers, who fall under the National Union of Commerce Catering and Allied Workers (NUCCAW), said they have been underpaid for the past five years.
A NUCCAW representative who spoke to the Lesotho Times on condition he was not named, said management had failed to comply with an order issued by the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) on August 25, 2010. The DDPR ruled that Sun International should comply with a collective bargaining agreement and pay all workers the agreed minimum wage. The representative said the hotel had instead continued to pay workers on an hourly basis in violation of the order.
“The DDPR ruled in 2010 that all the employees within the bargaining unit be paid according to the minimum wages instead of paying them on hourly basis,” said the NUCCAW representative. “Employees under the bargain unit are being paid M1 500 instead of the M2 800 set under the minimum wage,” he said.
Although the hotel appealed against the judgment, they later withdrew the appeal on December 7, 2012. Workers at the hotel say management has continued to underpay employees within the bargaining unit by paying them hourly rates instead of the stipulated minimum wage. They also alleged that they had not been awarded any salary increment since July last year.
“The company is behind by nine months after it failed to award a wage increase,” he said. He also alleged that the company had arbitrarily cancelled their severance pay in 2004. “One morning we came to work and found a notice informing us that the severance pay had been cancelled. That had not been discussed with us. We were shocked that we would serve the hotels for years and not be given a cent,” he said. The workers are also demanding that certain posts such as in marketing, housekeeping, security and maintenance, which they alleged are currently headed by foreigners, be reserved for Basotho.
They said their plan is to force the management to settle the payment issue and amend some of the regulations. “We want our rights protected. How long we are going to stay away is up for discussion,” he said. He said they will submit their application to hold a legal strike tomorrow. “If the application is successful we will petition the Prime Minister Tom Thabane to help with the interaction between us and the management,” he said.
The office of the managing director of the Lesotho Sun Hotel and Casino declined to comment.