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Lesotho ratifies three labour conventions

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Staff reporters

The government has committed to being bound by the provisions of three International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions in a bid to promote a decent work environment.

A joint statement by the government and ILO said among the ratified conventions is the Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 (No. 151), which aims to extend the rights of public employees to participate in the determination of their conditions of employment, with collective bargaining being expressly mentioned as one of the possible modalities.

The other two conventions are the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187); and the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190).

The conventions were ratified last week.

Commenting on the ratification, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Employment, Richard Ramoeletsi, said the government is demonstrating political will to promote a decent work environment.

“Today marks a momentous occasion in the history of the governance of the labour market in Lesotho where the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho is going to demonstrate its political will to heed the resolutions of various fora dedicated to promoting decent work across the globe,” he said on Wednesday this week.

“For our purposes, I wish to mention that whilst discussion and adoption of International Labour Conventions is the purview of the International Labour Conference (ILC), the promotion of ratification of these conventions is a product of social dialogue at national, subregional and regional levels.”

When receiving the instrument of ratification, Joni T. Musabayana, Director of the Decent Work Technical Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa and Country Office for South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (DWT/CO-Pretoria) said:

“Today’s ratifications reflect a firm commitment on the part of the government of Lesotho to the freedom of association of public employees and the promotion of sound labour relations; the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment; and a world of work free from violence and harassment, and to take measures towards the achievement of those laudable objectives, and in so doing to be subject to the regular supervision of ILO supervisory mechanisms.

“All three instruments are among the ILO Conventions prioritized by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for ratification and implementation.”

The joint statement further indicated that by so doing, Lesotho became the 58th ILO Member State, 16th African Member State, and 4th SADC Member State to agree to be bound by the provisions of Convention No. 151.

“The instrument aims, among other things, to complement the provisions of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) by extending the rights recognized therein to public employees engaged in the administration of the State by officially granting them the right to participate in the determination of their conditions of employment, with collective bargaining being expressly mentioned as one of the possible modalities.”

Since 2020, the ILO has assisted the country in comprehensively promoting the instrument from sectoral, social dialogue and normative perspectives, the statement said.

 â€œA gap analysis assessing national legislation in relation to the provisions of the convention was finalised in 2021 and validated by the tripartite national constituents. Fundamental Convention No. 187, with this latest undertaking, has now been ratified by 60 ILO Member States, out of which 16 are from Africa and four are from SADC.

“Its ratification by Lesotho is one of the latest occupational safety and health developments, all ILO fundamental conventions are now ratified, including the latest two on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).”

Since 2018, the ILO has been consistently accompanying the Member State’s social dialogue institutions, particularly the National Advisory Council for Occupational Safety (NACOSH) and National Advisory Committee on Labour (NACOLA), including through technical support provided towards the compilation of Lesotho’s national OSH profile, the conduction of scoping missions aimed at establishing the country’s OSH needs, and capacity building prioritization in a light previously identified ratifying aspirations, the statement said.

Technical support was also provided towards developing a national OSH policy, developing Guidelines on COVID-19 and the Workplace, and revising the draft OSH Bill. A week-long workshop on developing the National OSH Policy’s Implementation Plan and Monitoring & Evaluation Framework as well as the dialogue on wellness, health and HIV/TB interventions for World of Work is currently taking place in Maseru (13th – 17th of March 2023).

The statement said Lesotho also became the 26th ILO Member State, 7th from Africa, and 4th from SADC to formally commit to ILO’s most recent addition to International Labour Law, namely Convention No. 190.

“The instrument, which entails an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work, together with its accompanying recommendation (R.206), is one of the first two global instruments on violence and harassment in the world of work. ILO’s technical support to the country has echoed the integrated approach of the convention by bringing together the technical expertise of labour law, equality, non-discrimination, and occupational safety and health.”

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