The Botswana Land Board and Local Authorities Workers Union (BLAWU) and the Botswana Tribal Administration Services Association (BOTASA) met in Mochudi recently for talks about a possible merging of the two labour organizations, “in a bid to build a coherent and vanguard union.”
A statement released by the presidents of both associations said the meeting negotiated and formulated terms of reference which would guide the unification process. They said that the fragmentation of the labour movement leads to poor representation that subsequently leaves workers in the lurch, giving the employer an opportunity to flagrantly oppress workers.
”The glaring importance of the move is also necessitated by the principle of the working class solidarity which is vindictive of the prophecy of our progressive predecessors.”
Many within the labour movement view the recent development as a continuation of BLAWU’s efforts to increase its numerical strength so that it can effectively compete with heavyweights like the Botswana Teachers Union. At the recent national congress of the mother body, the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, numerical strength helped the BTU to gain control of the federation, with its president, Japhta Radibe, assuming the presidency while Secretary General Keorapetse Kgasa also garnered a seat in the federation’s executive.
At that time, BLAWU, which had not unionized, did not campaign for any positions opting to attend the conference as observers. Reliable sources told The Sunday Standard that the BLAWU has ambitious leaders, among them President Pelotshweu Baeng and Publicity Secretary Ishmael Williams, who cannot afford to be without influential portfolios in the federation.
“They are looking to increase their numbers substantially so that they become a force to reckon with and also to increase their chances of garnering influence in the BFTU executive at the next congress,” said the sources.