Systematic violations of rights

Same as last year


Workers' rights violations

Silencing the age of anger

In March 2022, the Coalition of Lesotho Public Employees (COLEPE) wished to organise a demonstration demanding salary increases for public employees. However, the groups were denied a demonstration permit by the Maseru Central Police, who based their decision on an amendment brought in during the pandemic forbidding demonstrations due to public health concerns. COLEPE argued that Covid-19 restrictions had been lifted, as of the 25 January 2022. Further, it noted that Maseru City Council had already granted the permit only for the police department to later deny it. COLEPE intended to fight the police decision in court, but the case was postponed due to a power failure.

Union busting

Following a series of successes in 2021, Lesotho’s United Textiles Employees (UNITE) have been confronted throughout 2022 by anti-union measures taken by employers.

Companies have tried to establish yellow unions to weaken UNITE, as seen in the case of Precious Garments. Reasoning that UNITE was “causing an inhospitable business atmosphere and capital flight”, employers have petitioned for the deregistration of UNITE. Shop stewards have been dismissed for their involvement in the labour movement, and employers have denied UNITE representation in their workplaces.

Challenging these actions, UNITE won a court battle against Precious Garments in September 2022, which ruled that UNITE could not be suspended in the workplace, and that the company and its general manager had to pay the union’s outstanding dues.

Right to collective bargaining

In Lesotho, construction workers, represented by Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers Union (CMQ), went on strike on 15 March 2022 to demand payment according to the international standard in their industry, as opposed to the domestic one. CMQ were striking against China Geo Engineering Corporation (CGC), which had been awarded a 900 million loti (US$49 million) tender to construct a road. The union had tried to get the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) to force the CGC to address their concerns, but no agreement could be reached.

In response to the announcement of the industrial action, the Chinese company filed an emergency petition in the Labour Court attempting to block the workers from striking, as well as declaring the strike illegal. The Labour Court denied these claims, arguing that the case was still in the hands of the DDPR. After two days of striking, the CGC, CMQ and government officials were able to meet a temporary agreement to hold the strikes for two months to give the CGC time to address workers’ demands. However, the CGC left the bargaining table in May, which led to the workers striking once again in June.

Workers’ rights in law

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