Work­ers take on milling firm man­age­ment

Lesotho Times - - News - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Le­sotho Flour Mills (LFM) has been re­ported to the Di­rec­torate of Dis­pute Preven­tion and Res­o­lu­tion ( DDPR) by 43 se­nior staff who ac­cuse the com­pany of a num­ber of al­leged trans­gres­sions.

The case was be­fore the DDPR on Tues­day, where the work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Le­sotho Cloth­ing and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union (LECAWU) Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Le­bone­joang James Molefi, tabled sev­eral griev­ances which he al­leged had been ig­nored by the com­pany.

Mr Molefi told the Le­sotho Times: “I don’t want to go into the de­tails of this case be­cause it is now be­fore the DDPR. What I can only tell you are the rea­sons th­ese em­ploy­ees have en­gaged this of­fice of the DDPR.

“They oc­cupy se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions at Le­sotho Flour Mills, and in De­cem­ber 2015, the com­pany did not give them bonuses, while the rest of the work­ers, about 250 of them, got the money. The other is­sue is about a salary in­crease of 6.5 per­cent which was awarded to the rest of the work­ers in Jan­uary this year, but not th­ese 43 who are here to­day.

In ad­di­tion, in Jan­uary, man­age­ment uni­lat­er­ally de­cided to re­duce the work­ers’ car and mo­bile phone al­lowances by 20 per­cent.

“All this hap­pened un­der the mis­taken be­lief that peo­ple hold­ing se­nior po­si­tions in the com­pany can­not be trade union mem­bers be­cause the salary in­crease, for in­stance, was ne­go­ti­ated by a trade union.”

Mr Molefi said the de­ci­sion to take the case to the DDPR was “his­toric”.

“What is hap­pen­ing here to­day is his­toric in na­ture. Man­age­ment teams have been told, for a very long time, that they do not have the right to be­come trade union mem­bers.

“But this chal­lenge is his­toric in the sense that we have man­aged to prove to Le­sotho Flour Mills that em­ploy­ees who oc­cupy se­nior po­si­tions can also fall un­der what is called a bar­gain­ing unit, and th­ese peo­ple can ne­go­ti­ate salary in­creases and par­tic­i­pate in strikes,” he said.

Mr Molefi fur­ther said Le­sotho Flour Mills re­trenched work­ers last week which LECAWU would be tak­ing up with the man­age­ment.

“Some peo­ple were re­trenched from the com­pany last week and this is an­other case we will be deal­ing with in due course,” he said.

Mean­while, Mr Molefi yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that the case con­tin­ues be­fore the DDPR on 24 March.

“But be­fore that, the Flour Mills man­age­ment and work­ers rep­re­sen­ta­tives are go­ing to meet for what is called a pre-ar­bi­tra­tion con­fer­ence. The date for this con­fer­ence has not yet been set,” he said.

Con­tacted on Tues­day on the work­ers’ al­le­ga­tions, Le­sotho Flour Mills Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Ron Mills said: “I can­not com­ment on the DDPR case be­cause I did not at­tend the hear­ing. I also can­not com­ment on any­thing re­gard­ing the re­trench­ments be­cause those are in­ter­nal mat­ters.

“I have to make con­sul­ta­tions be­fore I could speak about such mat­ters pub­licly.”

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