Sunday, April 18, 2021

BDP Labour Sub-Committee puts pressure to end deadlock

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s labour committee has called for a temporary halt of the ongoing public sector strike to allow for negotiations to resume in earnest.

For close to three weeks now, public officers have not been going to work, demanding a 16 percent salary hike. The strike, whose real effects on the economy are now slowly being felt, has paralysed provision of services in government clinics, hospitals, schools and other government offices country wide.

The committee, chaired by Prince Kgwaneng, met this week with representatives of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) where a request for the suspension of the strike was made. The committee has also said government is ready to resume negotiations.

It is understood that prior to its meeting with the Union, the committee also met President Ian Khama.

An insider said that the committee had recommended a salary adjustment for the striking workers.
However, in an interview with this paper, the chairman of the committee, Kgwaneng, could only confirm the meeting, but would not shed light on the details.

“We have made a proposal to President Ian Khama and I cannot comment while he is still seized with the matter,” he said.

He said that his committee was waiting to hear whether President Khama and his central committee will act on their recommendations or reject their suggestions to government.

The committee, among others, has MP Dikgakgamatso Seretse, Puma Matlhware, Matshediso Fologang as well as Kgang Kgang.

A union insider disclosed to The Telegraph that during their meeting with the BDP sub-committee emphasis was made of the need for reconciliation.

The sub-committee is said to have hinted at the fact that President Khama is concerned by the barrage of attacks leveled against him by opposition politicians at the Union’s forums.

The committee also apologized and explained that President Khama could not, as of now, meet with Union leaders because he did not want to interfere with the negotiations.

“They called for the suspension of the strike and assured us that the employer is ready to talk.”

At the time of going to press the general secretary of BOFEPUSU, Andrew Motsamai, was not available for comment but The Telegraph has it on good authority that the BOFEPUSU will hold a special congress over the weekend where a number of resolutions are expected to be taken. Following its unsuccessful meeting with government negotiators on Thursday, the Union has so far indicated that the strike is continuing until further notice.

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