IndustriALL Global Union affiliates organising predominantly in Lesotho’s textile and garment sector merged on 31 May to form a new union, the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL).
Bargaining power in Lesotho has deteriorated significantly over a decade as splinter unions has emerged, competing with each other for membership. As a result individual union membership has remained below the threshold for recognition in many factories. This situation has benefitted employers but has resulted in the erosion of real wages against inflation, so that workers are barely able to survive on their earnings.
Lesotho affiliates Factory Workers Union (Fawu), Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union (Lecawu) and National Union of Textile Workers (Nutex) recognised that the only way to engage government and employers on a living wage would be to build unity amongst workers. They have been engaging their membership to build support for a merger whilst working together over the last two years, supported by IndustriALL and its Swedish affiliate IF Metall.
On 31 May the new constitution was unanimously adopted by the 92 delegates at the inaugural congress. Newly elected President Leticia Mohobelo, appealed for unity to be maintained amongst textile and garment workers in Lesotho.
IndustriALL and IF Metall will continue to support the development of IDUL to effectively represent workers.
In a message read to the merger congress, IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina said:
Today, workers in Lesotho have hope for building a strong union that is able to recruit more members, put in place solid structures that keep it accountable to its members. A union committed to improve conditions of employment and increase wages as well as address precarious work and job security.
Strengthened through this unity, workers can take on the fight for a living wage and decent work.