EDITORS FORUM STANDS IN SOLIDARTY WITH COLLEAGUES
Maseru, July 15 – The Editors Forum of Lesotho (EFL) says it stands in solidarity with the Lesotho Times Journalists and other colleagues facing illegal and unfair labour practices.
According to the statement from EFL, the forum indicates that it has learned that the employer has for the last 15 months been illegally deducting 20 percent from salaries of more than 30 employees, 19 of whom are fighting this injustice, citing an unfavourable economic climate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It states that the bulk of these workers are Journalists and that it has also emerged that the Journalists work under even more unfavourable conditions, making an example that they are underpaid and are also forced to work extremely long hours that exceed the legally stipulated 45 hours a week, minimum 11 hours of overtime in any given week.
It adds that it is worth noting that despite working seven days a week, Journalists are never paid overtime money, indicating that the lame excuse tendered by their employers is that journalism is not a ‘regular 8 to 5 job and journalists are on duty 24 hours a day’.
“The Editors Forum of Lesotho strongly believes that journalists, like all workers governed by the Labour Code Order of 1992, are protected from all forms of workplace exploitation on the workplace” it adds
However it states that it has become a common practice for media houses in the country to avoid paying employees decent wages, adding this they do by either underpaying journalists or engaging them for periods of more than two years, as interns or volunteers.
“Not only does this practice degrade journalists, but it has a direct bearing on the quality of their work “It emphasises.
It also made an example that underpaid Journalists, are tempted to resort to unethical practices to survive; indicating that they practice sycophant and brown envelope journalism which sees them soliciting or becoming vulnerable to receiving bribes from politicians and other influential interests, in exchange for biased unethical reporting.
It concludes by emphasising the importance and benefits of journalists and warned all employers that modern day slavery can no longer be tolerated and we will support all efforts to eliminate the mistreatment of journalists by their employers.
Meanwhile, earlier Lesotho Times staff members wrote a letter reminding the media house management that their July salaries reflected the 20 percent salary cut, despite that the management had indicated, during April 24, 2020 staff meeting, that the 20 percent salary cuts
were only intended for three months of April, May and June 2020.
The newspaper employees further lodged their case with the Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) whose reaction was to inform the management of Lesotho Times Newspaper that it wanted a stop to the 20 percent salary cut, with immediate effect, and its letter is dated June, 17, 2021.
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