By Itumeleng Lipala
‘Mapuleng Sauli, a health worker at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital II expressed gratitude to LEWA for hosting of 2023 international worker’s day celebration and to the current health minister Hon. Selibe Mochoboroane. She declared the minister knows what a person is, also he is not there for himself only and he always makes time for them. She thanked him for always opening his doors for them and considering their complaints. She really hopes he never changes his character even if the government could change because his character is not portrayed by his political status but it is his own birth character, he has humour and kindness.
Sauli indicated that they, as staff of Queen II went to the minister’s office on the 17th January 2023 to let him know about their complaints adding that the previous government was cutting off their agreement with Ts’epong Hospital, they left without being paid for that, they were still being owed. Mochoboroane on learning of their complaints promised them all their problems would be solved by the end of March.
“I am not here to belittle or harass you but I came to you because you are a humble and listening person, I suspect that people around you are the ones trying to sabotage you, we will not be surprised tomorrow when we hear that the ministers have been changed and awarded different tasks. We ask you to push harder and work effortlessly, you had promised us that you would have fulfilled your promises by the end of March but you have delivered even before then, we received half of the money we were expecting probably two weeks after we had spoken to you,” Sauli emphasized.
The workers’ salaries are still in arrears despite promises made by the previous health minister and government that staff payments would be settled regardless of ownership changing. But unfortunately that did not happen. They wonder what could have happened to them if the government did not change. Moreover, they are still waiting for the response concerning their petition, they still have unpaid leave salaries, 13th cheque which they were supposed to have received from January to July, night duty allowances and the doctors’ gratuities.
With regards to Ts’epong management ownership, she urged Hon. Mochoboroane on behalf of other workers to work hard in order to stop the transition period. They also ask that Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital be independent and not be under government management because its standard has badly depreciated ever since the transition period.
It is important to know and understand the importance of workers’ day as workers. On the 21st May 1988 at Australia, the workers were the first ones to fight against their employers for their freedom, workers were working day to day without having breaks. There are men and women who have lost their lives during that time of strike.
Speaking at the May Day rally in Leribe, Mr Hlalefang Seoaholimo Secretary General of LEWA emphasized that it is important to die for what is going to live than to live for what is going to die and that is because those who have fought even though they have lost their lives; it is because of them that the world now know that workers need to rest as well. He urged Village Health Workers to remain true to their work, encouraging them that their fight has been a fruitful one, since today they are being recognized as full health ministry workers than volunteers. They have the same rights and privileges as all workers with holidays and benefits.
All workers must be respected because there is no job which can be completed without them.
Seoaholimo also reiterated Sauli saying to the minister the current living conditions of Ts’epong staff is not too different from the life once lived by VHW. “The little time you have spent in the health office has proven to change the lives of many Basotho men and women. Therefore, we ask you to be aware of the situation at Ts’epong since it is triggering the mental health of many workers. When the workers are not paid accordingly and on time, they are being affected mentally. The work environment should also be stable as well so that the same workers are not affected in their families. With this message we plead that you stay diligent and work harder than before.”
Mrs Maranku Ranku district chairperson of Leribe health workers said they require personal protective equipment and medical supply. This includes first aid kit with enough supply of sanitizer, painkillers, cotton wool and bandage s treatment. “Regardless of everything, we observed a huge growth in our district and with that being the case we are grateful. We are thankful that now are being paid for our work while back then we would be paid either after 2 or 3 years.”