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May 20, 2021

STAFF REPORTER

3 min read

Govt brings calm to the textile industry

Govt brings calm to the textile industry

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IF the government’s promise to finally publish the much-awaited gazette that is expected to increase the wages of the factory workers is anything to go by, peace and calm will finally reign in the textile industry.

A number of people were injured while several others were arrested by police since the workers’ strikes erupted a few weeks ago both in Maseru and Maputsoe.

One male worker was run over by a hit and run lorry that lost control and plunged into a group of picketers in Ha Thetsane.

The man who suffered serious injuries on the groin area will probably never be able to work for his family again.

Perhaps with the government’s participation in the melee, things will now change for the better.

The government has promised that if the workers stop the interminable mass actions and return to work, the sought after gazette will definitely be in place on or before next week Monday.

But come to think of it, the gazette is long over-due.

The vital document ought to have been published a long time ago to help turn around the lives of the factory workers.

Instead, the government decided to take its time to see the light and ensure that the plight of the workers comes to an end.

But all it took was a simple meeting where a subcommittee of Cabinet ministers deliberated on long-term solutions to the concerns of the poor workers.

The question is why, what took so long for the powers that be to see the need to see the workers out of their miseries?

The fact that the textile and apparel industry has grown to become the largest private sector employer, providing over 40 000 jobs and benefiting around 13 percent of the country’s population should count for something.

The billions of maloti that the textile industry amasses through the production and exportation of products contribute substantially to the growth of Lesotho’s economy.

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It is a known fact that during the bitter COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdowns, some of these workers were dealt a low blow when they lost their jobs, escalating the already staggering figure of unemployment in the country.

Increasing the wages of the workers who can still put bread on their table therefore goes a long way towards rescuing a lot of people out of abject poverty.    

But clearly ensuring that the grievances of the hard-working factory workers were heeded was not that important notwithstanding how much they sweat for the development of the country’s economy.

Statistics show that between 2001 and 2004, textile and apparel exports from Lesotho to the United States increased from $140 million to $450 million, representing a 22 percent increase.

The records further indicate that foreign investment that was pumped into the country around that brought huge structural transformation.

The role these workers play in the development of Lesotho  should be taken seriously owing to the amount of effort they pull in.

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