The President of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Johannes Tshukudu has slammed the government for failing to take public servants grievances into consideration.
He said that such a habit is slowly dragging the country into shambles.
Speaking during the May Day Celebrations which were held in Francistown last week, he said the dignity of workers in Botswana is at stake because the workplace or environment is not promoting the same dignity ought to be given to employees.
“When trade unions call for the improvement of conditions of work and better salaries, the employer being the government uses all its muscle power to silence them by labelling them unpatriotic, inconsiderate and self-seeking disregarding other quarters of the society,” he said.
He said the employer of public officers through government state machinery influences the general public to think and believe that public servants are self directed and seeking people who always care for themselves only by making unnecessary demands forgetting that they are not the only Batswana that have to be serviced and cared for by the state.
“Public servants are the same planners and drivers who have made the current Botswana what it is. It must be known and appreciated that nation building is not a one man’s issue but it is a collective responsibility and once other people think that they are better placed to run this country by excluding other key players and then they are committing a very serious mistake,” said Tshukudu.
He said the current stand-off and tension that exists in this country between the government and trade unions is caused by the unwillingness of political leaders to meaningfully dialogue with unions on all issues that affect workers in this country.
“What dignity and worth do you expect to see from public workers if they are unable to use their monthly wages or salaries to build decent homes, when they are unable to provide for their families with regular health and food, when they are unable to clothe their families and when they depend on handouts from donor agencies such as Botswana Red Cross,” he asked.
He said public servants live in abject poverty as they do not even own residential plots. He said most of them do not even afford to get loans from commercial banks as they get meagre earnings. He also said that it has become a habit within the public sector where public servants work under clouds of intimidations and threats of being retrenched if they raise their complaints.
“BOFEPUSU as a federation of trade unions is hated for requesting responses to all these legitimate questions on behalf of its membership. The general public must help on what BOFEPUSU must do under these circumstances,” he added.
He said that BOFEPUSU is a legitimate trade union which was lawfully registered through an Act of Parliament of the republic of Botswana therefore it has the right to represent its members. He said BOFEPUSU as a national federation is aiming to restore the lost dignity and worth of this country’s workforce by motivating them that they must fight on until the last drop of their sweat.
“We must remind the political leadership of this country that it is only through meaningful social dialogue that can bring the desired peace, stability and goals to the challenges of the workers in the public sector of the Republic,” he said.
On a positive note he said BOFEPUSU intends strive to unite all the working class, trade unions and federations in the country so that they can jealously guard and protect their labour rights and have one strong labour voice for effective representation. He also said that the union strives to educate members on labour rights and productivity.
“Productivity cannot be left to chance because for the country to be productive and attract Direct Foreign Investment we need to express the need to work hard on our members,” he said.
The event was held under the theme “Striving for dignity and worth of the working class in Botswana.”