En­gage­ment key in tack­ling labour is­sues

Lesotho Times - - Business - This ar­ti­cle has been writ­ten by the Min­istry of Labour and Em­ploy­ment. For more in­for­ma­tion, do not hes­i­tate to con­tact us on: Tel: 22322565/22316255 Cell: 57905626 You can also find us on our Min­istry’s web­site: www.labour.gov.ls or on our Face­book pag

HELLO Ev­ery­one!

I am Ad­vo­cate Karabo Tl­hoeli, The Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary for the Min­istry of Labour and Em­ploy­ment. Let me wel­come you all to the first is­sue of our weekly col­umn called “Labour Mar­ket Di­a­logue”. We hope this col­umn will serve as a plat­form to ed­u­cate, to share and some­times to pro­voke pub­lic dis­course on is­sues that readers may feel to be of in­ter­est to them. We in­tend to make this col­umn an in­ter­ac­tive space of en­gage­ment. There­fore, I urge you to make the best use of this col­umn.

This in­tro­duc­tory ar­ti­cle gives a di­rec­tion and out­line the pa­ram­e­ters within which we shall op­er­ate.

This col­umn is a one of its own kind, where readers are go­ing to know more about labour mar­ket themes which in­clude, amongst oth­ers; so­cial di­a­logue, skills de­vel­op­ment for em­ploy­ment and em­ploy­ment pro­mo­tion, labour in­spec­tions, oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health, work­men’s com­pen­sa­tion, labour mi­gra­tion, al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion (ADR) and in­deed the labour mar­ket in­for­ma­tion and sta­tis­tics.

We launch this col­umn at the op­por­tune mo­ment when Le­sotho cel­e­brates 50 years of In­de­pen­dence and equally, the Min­istry and Labour move­ment is not an ex­cep­tion.

It is im­per­a­tive that we re­fer to the speech of Labour and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Tšoeu Thulo Mahlak­eng at Pitso Ground dur­ing Worker’s Day cel­e­bra­tions on 1 May 2016 where he gave an in­sight on some of the milestones the min­istry has achieved in the past 50 years which were ar­tic­u­lated as fol­lows:

Firstly, Le­sotho has come a long way in the reg­u­la­tion of labour mar­ket. Many will re­call that dur­ing colo­nial rule, the Le­sotho labour mar­ket was reg­u­lated through Com­mon Law and Mas­ter and Ser­vant Act No. 15 of 1856 which was de­signed to en­force dis­ci­pline on ex-slaves and/poor work­ing class. There have been a num­ber of laws since then which have been amended with the pur­pose of ad­dress­ing the emerg­ing chal­lenges in the labour mar­ket.

Se­condly, em­ploy­ers had ex­ces­sive pow­ers whereby em­ploy­ees were dis­missed with­out giv­ing them op­por­tu­nity to be heard (sum­mary dis­missal) let alone the fact that mis­con­duct was a crim­i­nal of­fence where em­ploy­ees were im­pris­oned for vi­o­lat­ing em­ploy­ment con­tracts. This prac­tice has since been abol­ished.

Apart from that, in the past em­ploy­ees worked un­til the em­ployer was sat­is­fied whereas cur­rently there is a min­i­mum and max­i­mum work­ing hours per day or week in­clu­sive of rest hour, leave days, paid ma­ter­nity leave in cer­tain cir­cum­stances. Cur­rently, a worker has a right to paid over­time which was not the case be­fore.

In the past, labour dis­putes were treated as or­di­nary cases in civil courts but now the Direc­torate of Dis­pute Preven­tion and Res­o­lu­tion (DDPR), Labour Court and Labour Ap­peal Court have been es­tab­lished to en­sure a speedy res­o­lu­tion of Labour Dis­putes.

Break­ing away from that his­tory of 50 years, we all know that the labour mar­ket con­tin­ues to evolve rapidly, hence the need for the labour mar­ket di­a­logue.

We are aware that there are still more de­cent work deficits in the labour mar­ket and chal­lenges re­gard­ing labour ad­min­is­tra­tion, hu­man and fi­nan­cial con­straints as well as lack of cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment. How­ever, we have started to deal with the prob­lems head on.

This fi­nan­cial year, the min­istry has, for the first time, had an an­nual gen­eral meet­ing (AGM) where our stake­hold­ers or clien­tele have a plat­form to scru­ti­nize the qual­ity of ser­vices we pro­vide.

We got use­ful feed­back from the past AGM and we are cur­rently work­ing on the short­falls that were raised so that in the next AGM we would be able to re­port pos­i­tively on the progress made.

How­ever, the min­istry has since de­vel­oped an Em­ploy­ment and Labour Sec­tor Plan to ad­dress the chal­lenges raised by our clien­tele in the AGM.

There are projects that the min­istry is cur­rently en­gaged in; such in­clude de­vel­op­ment of Le­sotho’s first Labour Pol­icy since in­de­pen­dence which is a long over­due ex­er­cise that should have guided the ful­fil­ment of the man­date and pre­vent the frag­men­ta­tion of labour ad­min­is­tra­tion that we see to­day as well as di­chotomiza­tion of labour re­la­tions into pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors.

Apart from that, the min­istry is also work­ing on Labour Law Re­view, So­cial Se­cu­rity and Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety (OSH) Pro­file, to make way for the new OSH leg­is­la­tion separate from the Labour Code.

We have to en­gage each other on the prob­lems that con­tinue to be­devil the labour mar­ket. We ac­knowl­edge there is still more room for im­prove­ment in many ar­eas of the labour mar­ket, such in­clude but not lim­ited to the fol- low­ing: l Sur­plus of labour in many sec­tors of the econ­omy; l Skills mis­match; l Recog­ni­tion of Prior Learn­ing (RPL) vs over ad­her­ence to for­mal qual­i­fi­ca­tions; l Ini­tia­tive to give youth ex­pe­ri­ence; l High unem­ploy­ment and most im­por­tantly youth unem­ploy­ment; l Col­lab­o­ra­tion ef­forts on skills de­vel­op­ment be­tween in­dus­tries and train­ing in­sti­tu­tions; l Job se­cu­rity and ca­su­al­iza­tion of work/job; l Pock­ets of dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices by some em­ploy­ers; l Labour in­spec­tions; l Col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing struc­tures for the liv­ing wage; l In­clu­sive labour mar­ket reg­u­la­tory frame­work e.g. do­mes­tic work­ers, in­for­mal econ­omy work­ers; l Pro­fes­sional skills within the labour mar­ket ad­min­is­tra­tion; l Labour mar­ket pro­file; l Up­dated OSH pro­file; l In­sti­tute of Labour Stud­ies in Le­sotho; l Cul­ture of com­pli­ance with labour laws; l In­ci­dents of child labour; l Up­dated labour mar­ket in­for­ma­tion and sta­tis­tics; l Frag­mented labour ad­min­is­tra­tion and di­chotomised labour re­la­tions sys­tems; l Au­to­mated ef­fi­cient and pre­dictable work per­mits sys­tem; l Most un­der re­sourced Min­istry in both hu­man and fi­nan­cial; l Em­ploy­ment cre­ation or pro­mo­tion pro­grammes.

In the sub­se­quent is­sues, we are go­ing to explore is­sues in a de­tailed way and I hope you will en­joy read­ing them.

There are projects that the min­istry is cur­rently en­gaged in; such in­clude de­vel­op­ment of Le­sotho’s first Labour Pol­icy since in­de­pen­dence which is a long over­due ex­er­cise that should have guided the ful­fil­ment of the man­date and pre­vent the frag­men­ta­tion of labour ad­min­is­tra­tion that we see to­day as well as di­chotomiza­tion of labour re­la­tions into pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors

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