Domestic workers under fire

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A domestic worker hard at work

By Seleoe Nonyane

Domestic workers have come under fire following their failure to show up at various workplaces after the end of the festive season.

This has prompted families that have engaged the services of the domestic workers to flood social media with strings of complaints about their going AWOL.

Those featuring in the social media discussions claim it has become a normal practice for nannies to abscond during the festive period in December and January.

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They say the unwelcome tendency has become a huge challenge that disrupts family routines, especially during this time of the year when the domestic workers’ services are most needed.  

Some say the nannies only inform them of their desertion when quizzed about their not reporting to work just a day before they can resume duties.

The managing director of Nanny 24/7, a grouping of agents who facilitate the placement of domestic workers, Kelab Mookholi, said it has become a norm for domestic workers to fail to report for work in time.

“Failure by domestic workers to resume duties at workplaces after the holidays has become a norm, which is a huge challenge. When we investigate this conduct we usually find that some of them complain of low pay. Others leave for better opportunities or accuse their employers of ill-treating them,” Mookholi remarked.

He said some of the workers say they are denied any rest as they work the whole week contrary to the law. The law allows for a one-day rest for a domestic worker.

Asked what action the agency was taking to address the situation, he said Nanny24/7 holds meetings between the domestic workers and their employers to iron out any labour related grievances. The meetings, he added, are a kind of mediation between the two sides whereby each lays out their complaints to reach a resolve.

Such meetings, he said, have proved to be successful as they result in amicable solutions.

The agency also advises employers to increase their remuneration where a low pay is deemed to be of central grievance.

A domestic worker who has not completed a year in the same employ is to be paid M680 while one who has completed a year is to be paid M751 monthly.

The minister of labour and employment, Moshe Leoma, was of the opinion that Lesotho’s domestic workers were bent on “demanding wages equal to those in South Africa.”

He urged for compliance with the requirements of the of the minimum wage as set by the ministry. He advised the workers to also consider the economic status of their employers.

 “For example, take a person that works at a Chinese supermarket who earns M1000 and decides to hire a nanny, how much will a nanny expect to be paid in this case? So this is one of the things nannies must take into consideration.” Leoma said.

A domestic worker Mpho Mohlouoa, who has worked with her employer for over a decade said the nature of work that nannies do comes with its challenges.

She urged that both employer and the worker should negotiate the terms of employment.

 “I have worked for my employer since 2009 and I am still very satisfied and happy at work. We have found ways to make working conditions mutually beneficial. We usually discuss any work-related issues. I am given an opportunity to voice any complaints regarding my work,” she said.

She is satisfied with her monthly pay which she could only say has also been increased.