Workers unions call on Majoro to stamp trafficking in persons
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By Lineo Ramatlapeng
Following a stern warning for Lesotho to address Human trafficking concerns or lose its Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility, workers unions today called on the Prime Minister take decisive action to safe more than 40 000 textile jobs.
The US concerns also include Lesotho’s sluggish progress towards addressing police brutality, implementing a multi-stakeholder national reform.
In an interview with a local weekly, US Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales reportedly said the United States (US) government has given Lesotho three months to address trafficking in persons and other human rights violations or risk losing out on the AGOA facility allowing the country to access US markets duty-free.
Gonzales had also warned of Lesotho losing its eligibility for an estimated 10 billion maloti worth second compact development under the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
But, if Lesotho under Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro lost AGOA eligibility this could cost 45, 000 factory workers, their jobs as the textile industry is hinged on duty-free access to US markets.
The workers’ unions, Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL), United Textile Employees (UNITE) and National Clothing Textile and Allied workers (NACTWU) called upon Majoro’s government to address the US government ultimatum on AGOA and MCC with immediate effect.
Sam Mokhele, NACTWU’s Secretary-General explained that it is in the backdrop of an increasing scourge of human trafficking, police brutality, unemployment rate, poverty and basic respect for human rights that they are calling for Majoro to take decisive action and safe textile workers jobs.
Mokhele emphasized NACTWU are commencing a campaign to call on Basotho to support the labour movement on this venture.
“Safety, respect and job security are more critical than ever at this moment,” said Mokhele.
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.
Mokhele also explained that these rights are under threat due to inequality, poverty and social instability caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which leaves workers, predominantly women, and other marginalized groups at increased risk of gender-based violence and harassment and other gross violation of human rights.
Mokhele mentioned that they have a labour code amendment draft bill that has been gathering dust since 2006 together with lack of urgency in gazetting minimum wages and incapacity in the justice system especially at the Directorate on Dispute Prevention and Resolution Labour Court and the Labour Appeals Courts.
Mokhele said Majoro must safe jobs and secure future investment and protect fundamental human right as it is government’s duty to protect at all cost.
However, King Letsie III has since appointed, on the advice of Majoro, retired Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses Director-General as the Borotho Matsoso as the Police Inspectorate who shall deal decisively with the performance of the country’s police service.