Unions call on govt to act on rights violations

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By Kefiloe Kajane

The Coalition of Trade Unions this week called on government to address the increasing scourges of human trafficking, police brutality, unemployment, poverty and to respect for human rights.

The Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL), United Textile Employees (UNITE) and National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU) are embarking on a campaign to further call on Basotho to support the labour movement in the endeavor.

NACTWU general secretary Samuel Mokhele said they want the government to respond to the dying economy of the country and provide emergency relief, and to address and prevent gender based violence, police brutality, human trafficking and the underlying issues that have left many people vulnerable.

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“The issue we are raising requires that government addresses the impact of unemployment. Lack of jobs has a direct bearing on how families function, it leads to instabilities in the economy which in turn have a direct correlation with human trafficking, escalation of domestic violence; unsolicited business and other criminal activities,” Mokhele said.

The unions further called on Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s government to address the United States government ultimatum on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) with immediate effect. They warned that Lesotho cannot afford to lose out on these initiatives given their importance and direct impact on the ailing economy of the country.

AGOA is a trade program meant to establish stronger commercial ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. The act establishes a preferential trade agreement between the U.S. and selected countries in the sub-Saharan region. In its current form AGOA will last until September 30, 2025.

Respect for human rights and the rule of law are some of the preconditions for AGOA eligibility.

Mokhele said AGOA and MCC are attempts by US government to boost Lesotho’s economy due to the need to secure jobs, address basic human needs, free trade and other issues which would make Lesotho claim its presence in the global market.

He further said people’s rights are under threat due to the inequality, poverty and social instability caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which leaves workers, predominantly women, and other marginalized groups at an increased risk of gender-based violence and harassment and other gross violations of human rights.

“We have a Labour Code Amendment draft bill that has been gathering dust since 2006; not only that, but the apparent lack of urgency in the gazetting of minimum wages and incapacity in the justice system especially at the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution Labour Court and the Labour Appeals Courts. Majoro must save jobs and secure future investments and protect ultimate human rights as it is government’s duty to protect everyone at all costs,” Mokhele concluded.

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