The ITUC does not have an affiliate in Lesotho.
Freedom of association / Right to organise
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Restrictions on trade unions' right to organise their administration:
- Restrictions on the right to elect representatives and self-administer in full freedom
- Only the members of a registered trade union, which must represent more than 35% of the employees (of an employer with ten or more employees), are entitled to elect workplace union representatives.
- Restrictions on the right to freely organise activities and formulate programmes
- Only an authorised officer or official of a trade union which represents more than 35% of the employees can have access to an enterprise in order to communicate with management, recruit members or perform other trade union functions.
Categories of workers prohibited or limited from forming or joining a union, or from holding a union office:
- Other civil servants and public employees
- Currently, public employees, including university lecturers, are prohibited from forming and joining trade unions. They can only form or join "associations" that have consultative status. The government has promised that the new Public Service Bill will guarantee freedom of association to public officers and allow them to form associations for collective bargaining.
Right to strike
Barriers to lawful strike actions:
- Other excessively complex or time-consuming formalities to call a strike
- Complicated procedures must be followed before strike action is authorised.
Limitations or ban on strikes in certain sectors:
- Undue restrictions for "public servants"
- Civil servants are not allowed to strike, and all public sector industrial action is illegal by definition.
The National University of Lesotho (NUL) management has acquired a court order blocking a strike by the Lesotho University Teachers’ and Researchers’ Union (LUTARU). Workers asked management for a 15 per cent pay increase and the signature of a recognition agreement.
When the National Union of Commerce Catering and Allied Workers instigated strike action against Sun International South Africa company with respect to the payment of higher wages and the use of casual labour, the company secured working permits for replacement workers from Business Units in Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Thaba Nchu in South Africa.
The General Secretary of the Lesotho Congress of Democratic Unions (LECODU), Tšeliso Ramochela, has called for better labour regulations in the textile industry. Speaking during a textile workers’ strike in August 2011 he warned that workers were being exploited in an industry dominated by Chinese employers. Levels of union organising have improved across the country’s all-important textile industry in recent years but many employers still ignore labour laws or exploit weaknesses in the law.
The country has a poor record on respecting trade union rights. In the private sector, the complex procedures and employers’ anti-union attitude make it very difficult to operate a trade union. Although the law prohibits anti-union discrimination, many employers still stop union organisers from entering factory premises to organise workers or represent them in disputes. In some cases, employers intimidate union organisers and members, threatening the latter with dismissal, particularly in domestic industries.
Because the strike procedure is complicated, there have not been any official strikes in the country for many years. There have been regular spontaneous protest actions over the years, however. As these are technically defined as illegal, workers continue to risk losing their jobs and being taken to court.