Botswana has been identified as a strategic venue for the hosting of a 3-day international symposium on Police labour relations in Southern Africa , which is due tomorrow (Monday), up to 5th August, 2009.
Head of Training Unit in the Botswana Police Services, Senior Superintendent Isaac Pale, has confirmed that at least 15 officers from this department are scheduled to participate in the debates at the Symposium.
“However, for now they will only be going there to benefit from the exchange as you are aware that Police officers are not members of unions,” said Pale.
Benzi Soko, the National Spokesperson of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) of South Africa, said in an interview with Sunday Standard, that the purpose of the international symposium is, among other things, to lay the foundation for free union activity in the Police and Prisons sector.
Soko pointed out that although he was aware that police and prison officers in most countries in the SADC region, including Botswana, do not belong to unions, but rather are members of associations, the idea is to share POPCRU’s own experiences as the oldest Police and Prison officers union on how to overcome the odds in order to reach “our level”.
“In that regard it was agreed that Botswana, as the most democratic country in the region, stood out as the best candidate to offer a platform for a free and constructive discussion in exploring the way forward in democratizing the work place,” said POPCRU spokesperson.
Although the seminar which is scheduled to take place at the Gaborone International Convention Center (GICC) is the third of its nature in the region, it is expected that it will break new ground in terms of Police and Correctional officers’ labour relations.
Many perceive the development as signifying a shift of paradigms from the conservative thinking into an open out of box thinking that would greatly enhance an enabling environment for a more co-operative friendly and dependable policing and correctional services agencies.
Moreover, with a new relationship with the public and establishment of humane policing regimes inspired by the recognition that officers also have rights to bargain constructively for improved working conditions, the world is assured to become a safer place.
A statement from the organizers has indicated that this follows decisions based on the output of recent fact finding missions to neighboring countries and an established network of contacts with Police Associations in the region.
The United Nations has recently enjoined states to show more respect for the labour rights of their employees including those in classified sectors providing essential services such as the military, the police and secret services.
In addition, the latest report of the ILO released after the June ILO conference highlighted the Botswana Government’s persistent refusal to allow prison officers to unionize.
The symposium was conceived as part of an initiative by POPCRU and Industrial, Organizational and Labour Studies (IOLS), formerly known as the Trade Union Research Project as well as the University of Natal aimed at enhancing the liberalization of Police Labour relations in Southern Africa .
The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), for the purpose of this particular symposium, have been enjoined with the ILO.