PARLIAMENT OF KINGDOM OF LESOTHO

SENATE

LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

REPORT OF THE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF THE LABOUR BILL, 2024

REPORT NO.10                                                                                          MARCH 2024

Committee’s membership

  1. Hon. Senator S. Motsamai – Chairperson
  2. Hon. Senator K.L.K. Theko
  3. Hon. Senator B.G.  Api
  4. Hon. Senator M. Kanetsi
  5. Hon. Senator Dr T. Lebese
  6. Hon. Senator L.M.  Seeiso
  7. Hon. Senator M.M. Moshoeshoe
  8. Hon. Senator N. L. Bereng
  9. Hon. Senator P.L.P.  Peete
  10. Hon. Senator S.B. Seeiso
  11. Hon. Senator L. Khoaele
  12. Hon. Senator M.T Mohale
  13. Hon. Senator J.A. Motsoene
  14. Hon. Senator S.S. Nkuebe

In attendance

1.         Hon. Senator S. Motsamai                                     Member

2.         Hon. Senator K.L.K. Theko                                    Member

3.         Hon. Senator P.S. Mathealira

4.         Hon. Senator M. Kanetsi                                        Member

5.         Hon. Senator Dr T. Lebese                                    Member

6.         Hon. Senator L.M.  Seeiso                                     Member

7.         Hon. Senator M.M. Moshoeshoe                          Member

8.         Hon. Senator M.S. Moholobela

9.         Hon. Senator L.L. Seeiso

10.       Hon. Senator S.B. Seeiso                                      Member

11.       Hon. Senator L. Khoaele                                        Member

12.       Hon. Senator M.T Mohale                                      Member

13.       Hon. Senator J.A. Motsoene                                  Member

14.       Hon. Senator S.S. Nkuebe                                    Member

15.      Hon. Senator S.M.G Masupha

16.      Hon. Senator M.L.Q.  Majara

17.      Hon. Senator T.K.T. Matela

18. Hon. Senator M.P. Mokhathali

19. Hon. Senator Q. Sekonyela

20. Hon. Senator M.S Maama

Secretariat

Ms ‘Maliako Lehloenya                   Committee Clerk

Mrs Maseephephe Matete              Chief Legal Officer

Mr Toka Tau                                      Research Officer

Mrs Mamosalla Ramosalla             Public Relations officer

Mrs Mpho Manyokole                      Recorder

Mr Phoka Motheolane                    Usher

Terms of Reference

Legislation Committee is a Standing Committee of Senate established under Standing Order 90 (1). Its functions are provided under Standing Order 90 (2) and are as follows:

  • Consider bills, subordinate laws tabled in accordance with Section 27A of the Interpretations Act No. 19 of 1977 as amended, or other matters which are referred to it by the President or resolution of the Senate;
  • Consider and investigate the constitutionality , legality , conflicting provisions and offensiveness of the bills or subordinate laws or any provision thereof;
  • Perform other functions, tasks and duties as may be resolved by the Senate.

1.0 Introduction

1.1Background Information

On March 20, 2024, the Honourable Vice- President of Senate made an announcement that the House has received two bills from the National Assembly of which Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2024 and the Labour Bill. The Bills two Bills were then referred to the Legislation Committee, hereinafter referred to as the “Committee”, for review in terms of the Senate Standing Order 51(3). The report presents the summary of findings, recommendations and proposed amendments to the Bill.

  1. Organization of the report

In this Report, section 1 has introduced the Report and has given a brief summary of the expectations of the House when it referred the Bill to the Committee. Section 2 outlines the work methodology and explains how the Committee came up with this Report. Section 3 gives an overview of the Bill. Section 4 focuses on findings, comments, observations and recommendationswhich the Committee made following its consultations with the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Section 5 concludes the Report.

  • Work Methodology
  • The Committee convened a sitting on March 21 and 22, 2024 and during which time the Committee invited the Ministry of Labour and Employment to brief the Committee on the rationale and objectives of the Bill. This was done in order to fulfil Standing Order 90(3) of the Committee which stipulates that “the Legislation Committee may call for papers, hear oral evidence, which may, by resolution of the Committee be recorded and transcribed; consult and liaise with Government Ministries and Departments; ensure the attendance of any person at a meeting of the Committee in terms of the Parliamentary Powers and privileges Act of 1994”.
  • The following participants joined the consultative meetings:
  • Tseliso Mokhosi  – Honourable Minister
  • Palesa Matobako – Principal Secretary
  • Mamohale Matsoso – Labour Commissioner
  • Mabokang Makh’apha – Chief Legal Officer
  • Maretsepile Lesia – Registrar Trade Unions and Workers Associations
  • Mabokang N. Sekokotoana – Deputy Parliamentary Counsel

At the end of the sittings the Committee analysed the Ministry’s opinions and remarks. Thereafter, the Committee came up with its own recommendations which it would convey to the House.

  •  OVERVIEW OF THE LABOUR BILL, 2024

3.1 Historical Background

The Act consolidates all laws relating to labour and employment; make

provision for ensuring compliance with fundamental principles and rights at

work and other relevant international instruments; promote the use of best

labour practices in the implementation of labour standards; address the

labour relations dichotomy between the public sectors and labour relations

system by extending coverage to the public sector and to repeal the Labour

Code Order, 1992.

3.2 Rationale of the Bill

The purpose of the Labour Bill is to provide a comprehensive framework for

regulating the employment relations, promoting fair labour practices and ensuring

the welfare and rights of both employers and workers.

The Bill addresses issues such as working conditions, wages and dispute

resolution mechanisms within the labour market.

The Bill further aligns national labour laws with international standards.

Bill addressed the labour relations dichotomy by extending its coverage to public

and informal sector, with the exclusion of the security agencies.

The Bill introduces greater flexibility to accommodate global trends and to

facilitate economic growth by introducing averaging of hours of work per month.

This flexibility will enable employers to deal with work pressure when it occurs.

It also introduces bargaining councils.

The Bill further extends the jurisdiction of Directorate of Dispute Prevention and

Resolution (DDPR) to disputes of unfair labour practices. It empowers the Labour

Court to make arbitral awards and settlement agreements into orders of court for

purposes of enforcement. This will assist the Labour Court in the reduction of

the backlog.

Finally, the Bill extends maternity to a worker who has a stillborn. It also

introduces the following leaves, paternity leave, family responsibility leave,

bonding leave where a worker has adopted a child and compassionate leave where

a worker has lost an immediate family member. The Bill has 226 Clauses.

3.3 Stakeholder consultations

On Friday 22nd March 2024, the Committee held consultations with workers and     employers associations who presented their views as follows;

3.3.1 WORKERS’ CONCERNS

a) The provisions on working hours be maintained as they appear in the Principal Law that is 45 hours per week. The revised bill seems to be promoting slavery and making the workers off by taking their better conditions on the hours of work.

b) They pleaded with the Committee to maintain the status quo on the enforcement of payment of judgement debts at S34 of the Labour Code Order No. 24 of 1992 in that the employer is disallowed to pay in instalments or have his property attached to pay the judgement debt.

c) The law should be amended to remedy the discrimination on maternity leave where female textile workers are given 6 weeks paid maternity leave while other sectors are given 12 weeks maternity leave.

d) The involvement of the assessors in the composition of the Labour Court and the Labour appeal court should be maintained as it appears in the Principal Law.

e)The workers constituency under the umbrella of Lesotho Police Staff Association-LEPOSA lamented that the exclusion from the application of the labour law leaves them without the enjoyment of other labour rights.

f) They informed the Committee that they are not covered by the provisions of occupational safety and health. Consequently, their members have not been compensated from the injuries sustained in the employment of the Government.

g) They further informed the Committee that their claims on compensation have piled on with dust as they have not been honoured from as far back as 2010.

h) They pleaded with the Committee to ensure that there be a compulsory arbitration where their right to strike is denied.

3.3.2 EMPLOYERS CONCERNS

a) The employers conceded that they are satisfied with the consultations that were made in the development of the Labour Bill.

b) Their concern was on the criminalization of certain provisions in the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2024 and the exorbitant fines.

4.0 OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Observations of the Committee

The Committee observed that

  • Fines and penalties are contained in the provisions of the Bill.
  • There was an issue on the exclusion of the security agencies from the provisions of the Labour Bill. The Security agencies are deprived of the protection in OSH provisions and labour rights especially the protection of freedom of association, the right to strike and collective bargaining.
  • Public Service does not seem to have been consulted. However, the Public Services legislations already provide better standards as opposed to those provided in the Labour Bill and therefore the Public Service Act and its amendments must maintain those better standards.
  •  They have no insight on how the Labour Market and its Institution operate

Recommendation of the Committee

Based on the above observations, the Committee recommends that:

  • Fine and penalties should be moved to the Schedules.
  • The legislations regulating the security agencies be amended to extend coverage of freedom of association, the right to strike and collective bargaining.
  • There be more engagement with the tripartite structure on labour.

After a thorough review of the Bill, the Committee recommends that the Bill be passed as amended.

  1. In clause 3 add sub clause 3 to read; “where the excluded categories do not enjoy the rights guaranteed in this law, the provisions of this law shall apply to them mutatis mutandis.”
    1. In clause 6 (1) after sub-paragraph “(l)” insert a new sub-paragraph in the list as follows:- “(m) age” ;
    1. In clause 12 (1) line 2 delete the word “government”
    1. In clause 12 after (3) make a new insertion “The Minister may appoint experts on a subject matter before consideration as in when need arise, who shall deliberate on the matter but shall have voting powers.” and re number sequentially.
    1. In clause 12 (1) Line 2 delete the word  “government”;
    1. In clause 12 after sub-clause (2) make a new insertion as follows:- “(3 )the Minister shall appoint government representatives who shall not exceed six”, and renumber sequentially;
    1. In Clause 110 (2) line 2 after the word NACOLA, delete the word “direct” and insert instead thereof the word “recommend”;
    1. In Clause 128 after (4) make a new insertion “Notwithstanding sub-section (4) where a contract provides for renewal, the employer shall provide a notice of termination or renewal” and re number sequentially.
    1. In clause 141 (1) (d) after the word “pregnancy,” delete words “family responsibilities”
    1. In clause 143 (1) (c) Insert the word “who” to precedethe word “resigns” ;
    1. In clause 143(c) after the word “hearing” insert new wordsas follows :- “upon receipt of “a letter inviting a worker for a disciplinary hearing” ;
    1. In clause 164 (2) (b)   substitute the words “Labour Commissioner” with the words “Director National Employment Service” ;
    1. In Clause 192 (2) (a) line 2 substitute  the number “240” with the number  “260” ;
    1. In clause 192 (1) rearrange  subsection (b) to come before subsection  (a)
    1. In clause in 192 where the word “watchman” appears it should be followed by words “and or security guard”
  • Conclusion

The Committee’s recommendations for this Bill were based on issues raised during the review of the Bill that need to be addressed. The Committee therefore believes that the House will consider the recommendations contained in this Report and that the Report will receive the support of all Honourable Members.

In conclusion, subject to Standing Order 52 (3) the Committee resolved to submit this Report to the House for adoption.