The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has launched a crusade to mobilize embassies accredited to Botswana against government’s “disrespect for industrial relations which poses a threat to peace and stability of the country.”
BOFEPUSU and Botswana Government are currently embroiled in a legal battle over the scope of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and commitment to commence of the 2017/18 salary talks.
The PSBC is made up of representatives from BOFEPUSU and government and salary talks for 2017/18 have stalled because government claims that its representatives have busy schedules.
Among the embassies that the federation has approached are American Embassy, United Kingdom, European Union, Cuban Embassy, Germany Embassy, South African Embassy and Zimbabwean Embassy.
In a letter dated 17 April 2017 and addressed to all embassies accredited to Botswana, BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa informs the foreign envoys that the federation “would like to have a meeting with yourself at date and time of your convenience in the month of April 2017.”
“The purpose of the meeting will be to share with your office challenges in industrial relations/industrial democracy. You have noted a disturbing state of industrial relations in Botswana which poses a threat to the peace and stability of the country,” states Motshegwa.
He explains that among such salient issues are violation of labour laws, violation of workers’ rights and Botswana Government’s continued disregard for collective bargaining which he said is against the spirit of International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The meeting will accord us an opportunity to share with yourselves and ideas on how industrial relations are done in your country to try and improve ours,” states Motshegwa.
He further informed the foreign envoys that “Having understood the context and dynamics of industrial democracy in Botswana, then you will be in a better position to advice Botswana leadership at government level towards respect of human rights, for workers’ rights are human rights.”
Motshegwa said they were shocked at government’s decision not to release its representatives to attend a meeting of the PSBC.
“They say the Permanent Secretaries and Directors who represent them at the council are busy. This is not true because Government representatives at the council are eight (in number) and each has an alternative to attend when the substantive one is not around,” he said.
He added that “it is clear that the government does not want the Bargaining Council to function; does not want negotiations and collective bargaining in Botswana because government has many permanent secretaries and directors.”
Motshegwa said BOFEPUSU would announce a way forward on Monday. “We encourage workers to remain strong and courageous because we are in the final stages of claiming the so much fought for victory,” he said.