Leaders of trade unions representing employees of the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), diamond manufacturing sorting, processing and valuing companies and of the various mines under Botswana Mine Workers’ Union have resolved to merge into a single trade union to be called, Botswana Mines, Minerals and Energy Workers (BMMEWU). This emerged at a joint leaders’ meeting last week at Yarona Country Lodge convened to receive feedback reports on the consultation and readiness of the three unions to merge.
“You might like to note that in fact we have been meeting over the years since late nineties as the leaders of the three mentioned unions which happen to be at the same time co- affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, formerly known as International Confederation Energy Mining Unions, abbreviated as ICEM,” explained Bohithetswe Lentswe, General Secretary of the BPCWU. Lentswe pointed out that there was consensus among Unions about the importance of joining forces and that some of the unions including BPCWU had consulted with members and a vote was conducted to ascertain consent. However given the time that has lapsed since the vote, the evolution of dynamics and to validate the process it might be necessary to repeat the process.
Modiri Keseabetswe, Chairperson of BDWU, concurred with Lentswe on the benefits of merging. “I reckon this is an opportunity to amplify our voice and solidify our bargaining power as a robust force than inaudible and weak in-house entities without consequence to members’ welfare,” concluded the BDWU leader. The task Team appointed to draft the constitution of the new “united union” also took to the podium with confidence to enlighten the leaders on the outcomes of their mission and requirements to be complied with as per Trade Unions and Employers Organizations law. It is increasingly trendy for international federations to encourage their affiliates to merge so as to pool resources and optimise on whatever possible support that fraternal organizations can render to help in pursuit of a shared cause. Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has in the past attempted to facilitate the same among its members, albeit without success.
Kenny Mogane, South Africa based Regional Officer of IndustriAll Global Union in Southern Africa, explained on the sidelines of the leader’s meeting, that his organization merely facilitated the merging process by providing expertise and material as well as educational support. “Put simply, the initiative to bring together the three unions, whilst largely a local affair it is a success story for us at IndustriAll Global Union because essentially that’s the gist of our mandate to provide support to workers across all sectors and the world so they learn that staying small is not an option if we are to confront presenting challenges,’ said Mogane. Mention was made of the fact that the meeting was part of Southern Africa Region’s IndustriAll Global Union’s three year project called Union Building aimed at capacitating the trade unions on issues of financial management, leadership training and empowering women and young workers especially in terms of leadership skills.