April 15, 2021


3 min read

Factory workers deserve to be treated better

Factory workers deserve to be treated better

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FOR years, factory and textile workers have been exploited by their employers who underpay them willy-nilly and deny them all their essential rights including among others leaves and bonuses.

Their pleas for salary hikes have fallen on deaf ears as the factory owners keep making endless while ignoring to adjust the hard working employees’ wages.

What remains a fact is the workers’ salaries are poor and should be increased urgently so that they could meet their families’ ever escalating needs.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has also not been kind on anybody’s pocket and it goes without saying that the pitiably paid factory and textile workers are hard hit.

A lot of them have lost their jobs since the pandemic first broke out in the country in March 2020 with many more job losses looming.

Efforts by the former Minister of Labour and Employment Keketso Rantšo to intervene in the wage scuffle between the workers unions on behalf of the workers and the employers have been in vain.

No matter how many times she brought the matter before Cabinet during her time in office, there was just no going around the issue to finally put it to bed.  

The endless petitions and mass actions that the workers held over the years have yielded no fruits because their money troubles have never ceased.

The effect the issue has had over the workers’ performance and productivity cannot be overemphasized but unfortunately the employers are simply not prepared to relent in their quest to remain tightfisted.

Recently, a group of workers unions once again initiated the old fight for the adjustment of the workers’ salaries.

But the unions and the Wages Advisory Board could not reach any common ground because the employers are still reluctant to heed the workers’ cries for help.  

The workers wanted a 20 percent salary hike which under the circumstances sounded reasonable and decent, but the factory owners were only prepared to make a silly concession of 4-5 percent increase.

A scheduled meeting between the two parties was postponed indefinitely because the cocky employers were not prepared to meet the workers, citing reasons of COVID-19 health protocols.

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There is no doubt that the job to settle the wage fracas between the workers and their employers was considerably too difficult  for poor Rantšo who was eventually shown the door by Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro for sheer incompetence among others.

Maybe she had too big boots to fill or perhaps she was just inept making a decision, notwithstanding that she had all the authority to intervene in the wage fray.  

But with a new Sheriff in town, there is hope of better things to come. The new labour minister Moshe Leoma has pledged to move mountains to get to the bottom of the incessant battle between the workers and their employers.

We hope he will make sound decisions and exercise his powers by ensuring that the poor and unheard workers are finally given an ear.

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