Union fights for fac­tory work­ers

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE In­de­pen­dent Demo­cratic Union of Le­sotho (IDUL) has re­quested the Le­sotho Na­tional Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LNDC) to help 350 work­ers who have been stranded since their cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany was burnt down in Jan­uary this year.

Ac­cord­ing to IDUL deputy general sec­re­tary Se­abata Likoti, the Maseru-based Golden Leaf Com­pany had since made it clear it could not re­sus­ci­tate op­er­a­tions with­out gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance. Mr Likoti said af­ter this pro­nounce­ment, the union wrote to the LNDC for in­ter­ven­tion af­ter Golden Leaf man­age­ment had al­legedly failed to meet all the rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers in this mat­ter.

LNDC is gov­ern­ment’s paras­tatal tasked with im­ple­ment­ing the coun­try’s in­dus­trial devel­op­ment poli­cies and pro­mot­ing Le­sotho as an at­trac­tive in­vest­ment lo­ca­tion for both for­eign and in­dige­nous in­vestors.

Golden Leaf has also writ­ten to Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Joshua Setipa for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance but the com­pany man­age­ment says the com­mu­ni­ca­tion was not re­sponded to.

Mr Likoti ex­plained to the Le­sotho Times: “The work­ers’ salaries amount to M257, 000. We re­quest LNDC to as­sist work­ers get their salaries.

“The LNDC should pay these peo­ple as soon as yes­ter­day and fail­ure to do so, we shall be left with no op­tion but to sue the cor- po­ra­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Likoti, the money is for the two weeks the work­ers were on duty in Jan­uary be­fore the fire de­stroyed their liveli­hoods.

Asked about the is­sue, Min­is­ter Setipa said: “The let­ter could have been ad­dressed to me but I am not the right per­son to be con­tacted on fac­tory mat­ters.

“The let­ter was meant for LNDC as it is the one that deals with such is­sues.”

LNDC In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Man­ager Sello Tšukulu was not read­ily avail­able for com­ment while Golden Leaf Di­rec­tor, Gu Jing, said he was sur­prised that the gov­ern­ment was quiet on the in­ci­dent.

“I don’t know what the gov­ern­ment is do­ing about this but they have not even told us the way for- ward.

“What is even more funny is the fact that the land­lord does not even know our neigh­bour and yet the re­port on the fire clearly says it started in our neigh­bor’s ware­house.

“I would like to see the em­ploy­ees be­ing paid but I need help from the gov­ern­ment as the money I have is not enough.

“They worked for that money and are en­ti­tled to it,” said Mr Jing.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port com­piled by police In­spec­tor ’Muso Lehlokoa, the fire started in Te­boho Con­struc­tion (PTY) Ltd’s premises be­fore spread­ing to Golden Leaf.

“I duly cite here that the fire out­break that took place on the 18/01/2016 at Golden Leaf did not orig­i­nate in their com­part­ment but from the ware­house of Te­boho Con­struc­tion (PTY) Ltd then spread into the Golden Leaf fac­tory,” reads the re­port.

The fac­tory, the re­port adds, was burnt as a re­sult of “abun­dant cook­ing ap­pli­ances while in op­er­a­tion, poor house­keep­ing that leads to rapid fire spread… Re­sid­ing in the work­place that the law for­bids and un­pro­fes­sional elec­tri­cal in­stal­la­tion made by the oc­cu­pants...

“…What­ever they were cook­ing caught fire and the hang­ing elec­tric wires on the walls also caught fire which led to the fire out­age they ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore they could re­alise that the kitchen was on fire.”

There was also no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Te­boho Con­struc­tion (PTY) Ltd of­fi­cials.

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