Fears that the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) faces demise are gaining momentum within Botswana’s labour movement, especially after it emerged that the threat posed by the deregistered public sector federation, which is seeking autonomy from the BFTU, has re-emerged once again.
The public sector union, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), was recently given a leg up when it emerged that three other public sector unions have pulled out of BFTU.
The Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Secondary Education Teachers Union (BOSETU) and Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Workers Union (BLLAWU) have unilaterally pulled out of the BFTU’s Public Service Collective Bargaining and Representation Forum (BFTU-PSBRF), to join BOFEPUSU founding unions, through which they will hence forth engage with government over labour issues.
Gadzani Mhotsha, Secretary General of the BFTU, said last week that they are not aware that any of their affiliates had withdrawn from the bargaining council.
“We have only just learnt through your questions directed to us on the issue,” he said.
Mhotsha said that he did not see anything ulterior about the relative inactivity of the public service collective bargaining representation forum of the BFTU (BFTU-PSCBRF).
The Telegraph is in possession of a letter, dated 4th March 2010, which indicates that all three BFTU affiliated public service unions have joined forces with BOFEPUSU’s founding unions, BOPEU and Manual Workers Union (NACLGWU), and pledged P10, 000 each, which is to be paid to Barclays ACCOUNT No. 1042100 , Industrial Branch, by Thursday 4th March 2010.
“Pursuant to a meeting held at BOPEU conference room on the 3rd March, it was resolved that each of the five public sector unions shall contribute P 10 000 to finance a press conference to be held on the 9th March,” reads part of the letter.
Interestingly, the letter was signed by the Treasurer General of BLLAWU, a BFTU affiliate member, namely Disang Mokwape. The letter was also written on BLLAWU stationery.
But Mhotsha insists that the BFTU executive is in the dark.
“The president of BTU and the vice president of BOSETU are all key members of the BFTU executive, and they would have consulted with BFTU if there are any outstanding issues,” said Mhotsha.
Allegations abound that in a bid to prop up BOFEPUSU, its founding unions peddled malicious allegations about BFTU.