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29 Apr 2021

Nkheli Liphoto, MENAFN

Lesotho: Police fire rubber bullets & teargas at textile factory workers protesting poor wages & conditions

‘Three injured in factory protests’ 27 April 2021

THREE factory workers were injured during violent clashes with the police in the Thetsane industrial area yesterday. The workers were later admitted at Queen 'Mamohato Memorial Hospital. The police ordered the demonstrators to disperse after they began pelting buildings with stones. They later fired rubber bullets and teargas at the workers. The workers were demanding a 20 percent salary raise. They said they were not happy that Labour Minister Moshe Leoma had approved a three percent bump on their wages. The workers began singing peacefully in the Thetsane industrial area on Monday. The protest however turned violent the next day.

…One of the striking workers, 'Mateboho Khomo, told thepost that they are fed up with the government whose MPs pay themselves M5 000 petrol allowances but fail to meet their needs.
'Until today we have not seen last year's (wages) gazette, what are they doing in their offices?' Khomo said. The workers said last year, the unions and employers' representatives in the Wages Board failed to reach an agreement and the minister was supposed to intervene but failed to do so…Khomo said they are surprised that the textile unions claim the government wants to offer them three percent after spending the whole year silent on the increment. 'We want 20 percent and we are never going to back down on that issue,' Khomo said.

…All we want is our 20 percent increment as the shops have inflated their prices making life hard,' Mokoma said. 'It is unfortunate that police shoot us when we fight for our rights,' he said. He said their agreement with their unions was that they should propose the 20 percent increment and nothing less. The deputy secretary general of the Independent Democratic Unions of Lesotho (Idul), May Rathakane, said they are still in negotiations with the government on the issue of increments.