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Company Response

10 Sep 2020

Lesotho: Clothing giant allegedly fires employees for demanding govt. subsidy

‘Lesotho garment factory fires workers for demanding payment’ 20 August 2020

The workers were fired last week after gathering to ask the company why a payment of 800 maLoti (US $46) from the government had been delayed. Workers believe the company deliberately delayed the payment. The company accused them of taking wildcat strike action and fired 253 workers. When the workers asked for their severance packages on Friday last week, the company rehired them. Bull said the workers would be treated as new employees, losing all their accrued benefits, including their packages. They would also need to go through a three-month probation period at a significantly reduced wage. Severance packages are linked to wages and years of service, and represent a significant asset to workers.

…The union also raised the issue with a government sector development committee, who have summoned a company representative. The situation is complicated by the fact that factory owner is based in South Africa, and is unable to travel to Lesotho because of Covid-19 restrictions. The union is concerned that the company has secret plans to close the Lesotho factory and move the operation to South Africa. By firing the workers, they are attempted to reduce their liability for severance packages which workers have earned over many years of service.

… IndustriALL regional secretary Paule Ndessomin said: “Bull Clothing has played a dirty trick on its loyal workforce. By delaying the government payment, they provoked a reaction from the workforce. They used this reaction to accuse workers of taking wildcat strike action. Bull then fired them, stripped them of their benefits, and rehired them. “This is a dishonest manouever engineered to reduce the company’s liability to its workers. We will not accept this, and we will fight until their benefits are restored.”