Wednesday, December 8, 2021

NUM attacks Botswana Mine Workers Union for isolating BFTU

The National Union of Mine Workers of South Africa (NUM) has criticised the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) for celebrating May Day away from the umbrella framework of the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), saying that this defeated workers’ interests.

Presenting the NUM’s solidarity message at the BMWU’s May Day celebrations in Kane, Peter Bailey, Chairman of Health and Safety Committee, pointed out that it was wrong for the BMWU to hold separate May Day activities away from the broader federation celebrations as that undermined the unity of the workers.

He told union members that May Day is a very important day for the workings class across the world, both for its historical significance and the opportunity it presents for workers to introspect and collectively revive their fighting spirit.

For that reason, he indicated that it was not advisable to the BMWU to be hosting a separate May Day commemoration event alone.

“By celebrating as a single union, BMWU is depriving the federation of a chance to give direction to the working class,” stated the NUM official.

This is especially so considering that it falls within the core mandate of the BFTU as a federation to give direction to affiliates on matters of national and international nature. That included political direction, informing social and economic dialogue through organised research, whereas affiliates on the other hand are expected to focus on workplace issues.

According to Bailey, failure to differentiate between the functions of the federation and affiliates often times lead to unnecessary contest for the lime light with the risk for “them and us” attitude characterising the relationship between federation and its affiliates. So BMWU was cautioned against finding itself in that position.

One of the officials of BMWU had earlier on expressed concern about the non-effectiveness of the federation which he added required strengthening.

Following up on his message in an interview with The Telegraph, Bailley , to be true to their theme, “more members, one union, one federation more bargaining power”, BMWU must ensure they check their programme of action in the context of the broader federation (BFTU) so as to harmonise activities and thereby enhancing prospects for success in the struggle of the broader working class”.

Responding to the comments by NUM official, Joseph Tsimako, President of BMWU said, “We appreciate the advice. However it must be stated that we are fully committed to the BFTU; it’s just that we wanted to address the workers and the community about the issue of Scanex-X ray as Debswana continues to campaign in communities adjacent to the mines trying to win favour for their dangerous scheme”.

In addition, he added that they had to hand over a house for charity to a Destitute at Moshana Village. There was a sentiment that the actual reason BMWU went to Kanye was expressly for handing over the house, and there was no public meeting held to discuss Scanex except with their members.
BFTU representative, Martha Molema of Federation’s Women Council, said, “They (BMWU) informed us of the project of handing over the house and we found no cause to object as it is a noble idea, but we hope we are agreed as to the importance of working together for the confidence of our members.”

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