Monday, September 28, 2020

Labour movements urged to come up with suggestions as economy is weakened

While the government has come up with a stimulus package to help the weakened economy, the labour movement has been advised to make suggestions to government to mitigate the impact on members.

The Executive Director of BNPC, Thembo Lebang, has cited an example of Debswana and BCL, where effective and efficient labour-management collaboration has led to minimal job loses.

“While we note the government efforts in terms of a Stimulus Package for the economy, the labour movement needs to seriously do its homework to come up with suggestions to government on further initiatives designed to cushion their members from further pain,” he said at the launch of the BFTU May Day Commemoration in Maun on Friday.

He added that the labour movement must also put in place shock absorbing schemes for their members and not simply wait for government reaction, adding that, in fact, this must be a lesson for us in future to plan for such eventualities.

His comments come at a time when unions are at loggerheads with employers as the impact of the global economic recession is being felt at home, leading to miseries like job losses by members.

He was addressing the launch under the theme ‘Social justice for all in the midst of a recession’.

Already, this system has worked for BCL and Debswana where suggestions from the union has led to jobs been saved.

“A very good example is where Debswana and the Botswana Mine Workers Union have negotiated packages which have, in the short-term, saved workers jobs. The BCL and the same Union have also been on top of things in this regard. We commend them with all our hearts!” he added.

He said that all these are a product of effective and efficient labour-management collaboration.

“Instead of the employer planning and deciding alone and the Union playing a wait and see role, both parties should come together to share and agree on how to deal with workplace challenge,” he noted.

He said that the labour law alone cannot and was never meant to solve all challenges. And that the labour law can only provide an enabling environment for parties to determine the tools and techniques of building and managing their relationships.

Meanwhile, Lebang has revealed that, as BNPC, they do not support productivity enhancing programmes which result in job cuts.

He said that while the current economic down turn may not be associated with a decline in the productivity of the world economy, it is imperative that the Botswana labour movement is fully involved in programmes geared towards productivity improvement.

“The conventional view by some trade unions that productivity enhancement means automation which, in turn, translates into replacement of workers by machines, is not, in our view, the right way to view the world,” he observed. “We encourage gain-sharing schemes which discourage any job cuts. We have often advised that unions and management must form joint productivity improvement teams, such as works councils and work improvement teams.”

He added: “We also believe that when companies are highly productive during good times, they can generate enough wealth to be shared between labour, management and shareholders while putting some of it aside for hard times.”

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