20 January 2006
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana says the government will settle all outstanding pension and compensation claims from former Lesotho migrant workers who were employed in South Africa’s mines.
Mdladlana was speaking after a meeting with Lesotho’s minister of employment and labour, Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa, in Pretoria on Thursday.
The meeting was aimed at reviving the labour agreement the two countries struck in 1973 which, according to the two ministers, had become obsolete.
Mdladlana said South Africa employed about 300 000 Lesotho nationals at any given time, most of whom were in the mining industry.
He said the pledge to settle all outstanding pensions and compensation claims paved the way for a memorandum of understanding to be completed within a month.
The memorandum was “expected to address areas of co-operation such as social dialogue and dispute resolution,” Mdladlana said.
“The reason we decided to take the route of the MoU is because we want issues related to compensation and pension claims to be addressed urgently since we do not want to see families of these workers starving.”
Mahase-Moiloa said they wanted to ensure that Lesotho nationals in South Africa were there legally and that employers did not exploit them.
Mdladlana said South Africa had already concluded similar agreements with Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
A week ago, Zimbabwean Labour and Social Affairs Minister Nicholas Goche met Mdladlana in Beit Bridge to regularise the status of Zimbabwean migrant workers employed in South Africa.
Mahase-Moiloa said her visit coincided with a review of labour laws in Lesotho, and that her country hoped to learn from South Africa.
Mahase-Moiloa was also scheduled to visit Nedlac – South Africa’s institution for social dialogue between labour, business and government – and the Compensation Fund.