DDPR staff is­sue salaries ul­ti­ma­tum

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

DIREC­TORATE of Dis­pute Pre­ven­tion and Res­o­lu­tion (DDPR) staff have given man­age­ment un­til to­mor­row to pay their salaries for April 2017 fail­ing which they would not re­port for duty.

The Le­sotho Times has learnt that all DDPR staff mem­bers, who are around 35 and de­ployed na­tion­wide, had not re­ceived their salaries for April 2017 as of yes­ter­day de­spite their pay day be­ing the 25th of ev­ery month.

The DDPR is an arm of the Min­istry of Labour and Em­ploy­ment vested with pow­ers to pre­vent and re­solve trade dis­putes through con­cil­i­a­tion.. It is also man­dated with re­solv­ing trade dis­putes through ar­bi­tra­tion, to ad­vice em­ploy­ees, em­ploy­ers an­dand their or­gan­i­sa­tions on the pre­ven­tion of trade dis­putes.

The agency’s staff com­ple­ment in­cludes di­rec­tors, con­cil­ia­tors and ar­bi­tra­tors who are all em­ployed by the gov­ern­ment.

The DDPR is, how­ever, ex­pected to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently from the gov­ern­ment, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, trade unions and em­ploy­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions. In a let­ter dis­patched yes­ter­day and ad­dressed to DDPR Di­rec­tor and In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Coun­cil Sec­re­tary, ’Ma­bathoana Kho­tle, the dis­grun­tled work­ers is­sue a two-day ul­ti­ma­tum for the pay­ment of their salaries. The let­ter is also copied to Labour and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Thulo Mahlak­eng, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane and their prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries. Ti­tled “In­ter­ven­tion on the state of af­fairs re­gard­ing salaries at the DDPR” part of the let­ter reads: “As the In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Coun­cil is aware that DDPR staff salaries have not been paid for the month of April 2017, some DDPR staff mem­bers have in­curred costs as a re­sult of the afore­men­tioned. “It is per­ti­nent to men­tion that this de­lay in pay­ment of salaries has now be­come a norm in the direc­torate.” The let­ter con­tin­ues: “Our con­cern is this; will the em­ployer un­der­take to pay the back charges we suf­fered as a re­sult of our stop or­ders hav­ing failed to be paid on time and many other in­ci­den­tal ex­penses in­curred as a re­sult of this fail­ure to pay salaries as per the agreed date on our con­tracts of em­ploy­ment? “AS we write this let­ter on 10 May 2017, our salaries for the month of April 2017 have still not been paid and no plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion has been ad­vanced, ex­cept for a memo dated 24 April 2017 with a head­ing ‘ De­lay in pay­ment of salaries for April’.”

The memo, which is also in the Le­sotho Times’ pos­ses­sion was is­sued by DDPR Deputy Di­rec­tor Mot­latsi Monoko.

Part of it reads: “Please take no­tice that there has been a de­lay in the process of pay­ment of salaries for all staff of the DDPR for April, 2017.”

Mr Monoko states that the DDPR would not re­ceive their salaries on the usual 25th of the month.

“Man­age­ment is cur­rently do­ing all it can to ensure that the salaries are paid as soon as pos­si­ble. Man­age­ment is pro­foundly sorry for any in­con­ve­nience that may have been caused,” he adds.

But in the let­ter is­su­ing the ul­ti­ma­tum, the work­ers say the de­lay in the pay­ment of their salaries was “un­bear­able”.

“We write this let­ter to humbly seek the in­ter­ven­tion from your good of­fice to ad­dress this mat­ter with ut­most agency be­cause this sit­u­a­tion is un­bear­able.

Adds the let­ter: “We would ap­pre­ci­ate a re­sponse within two work­ing days of re­ceipt hereof fail­ing which we shall have no al­ter­na­tive but not to re­port for duty. We ask that the fi­nan­cial is­sue be ad­dressed and that our salaries be paid as soon as prac­ti­ca­ble. Fur­ther that the in­sti­tu­tion should be seen to pri­ori­tise salaries in the next fi­nan­cial year 2017/2018 and not let this un­for­tu­nate event to re­peat it­self.”

A DDPR staffer who spoke to this pub­li­ca­tion yes­ter­day on con­di­tion of anonymity, for fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion, said the de­lays in the pay­ment of their salaries be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2015.

“How­ever, the de­lay has never been this long. It has never ex­tended to the next month,” the sources said.

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, Mr Kho­tle said fran­tic ef­forts by his depart­ment to get the money for the salaries from the gov­ern­ment had not yielded fruits.

“The process of get­ting money for salaries from the gov­ern­ment is quite long, but it usu­ally does not take this long,” he said.

“Be­cause we are sup­posed to be an au­ton­o­mous en­tity un­der the Min­istry of Labour and Em­ploy­ment, we nor­mally make a re­quest for the money on a quar­terly ba­sis.”

Mr Kho­tle said for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017, they made the re­quest as early as in March this year.

“The ex­pec­ta­tion was that by this time, the money would have long been de­posited into our bank ac­count. But sadly we have been wait­ing in vain,” he said.

“Even I haven’t re­ceived my salary yet. Af­ter we make the re­quest, it is then ap­proved by the min­istry. There­after, the min­istry will com­mu­ni­cate with the ac­coun­tant-gen­eral (AG Sam Mphaka) at the Min­istry of Fi­nance. The AG will then com­mu­ni­cate with the Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho which is the only en­tity that can trans­fer the money into our ac­count.”

DDPR staffers who spoke to this pa­per said they sus­pected “some­one” was sab­o­tag­ing the process.

Re­peated ef­forts to con­tact of­fi­cials from the min­istry were un­suc­cess­ful last night.

Civil ser­vants have borne the brunt of de­lays in the pay­ment of salaries in re­cent months.

Last month Mr Mphaka is­sued a no­tice to prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries of all gov­ern­ment min­istries, all heads of de­part­ments and all dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors say­ing salaries would be de­layed for up to four days “due to the de­lay in cap­tur­ing the bud­get” for the 2017/2018 fi­nan­cial year.

FI­NANCE Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane.

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