Workers’ union organizations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have sent solidarity messages to their counterparts in Botswana who have embarked on a ten-day strike.
The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) began a strike on Monday.
The Deputy Secretary General of BOFEPUSU and the President of the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Simon Mapolelo, told the Telegraph that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) from South Africa, the Swaziland National Association for Teachers (SNAT) of Swaziland and even the┬áSouthern Africa Teachers Organization (SATO) had given encouragement and support. ┬á
Mapolelo said that from a meeting he attended recently in Harare, Zimbabwe, SATO pointed a blaming finger at the Botswana Government for failing to negotiate the grievances of the public sector employees fairly.
“Although the issues discussed at SATO were mainly issues pertaining to teachers, it emerged that the Botswana government had failed dismally to negotiate fairly with public employees who now call for a strike,” he said.
Mapolelo went on to reveal that SNAT is also currently going through some trying times in Swaziland following reports of unlawful imprisonment and violence on activists during demonstrations.
He said that as BOFEPUSU, they understand the government has no money but the government needs to cushion them against inflation.
“We understand the economy has grown by 7 percent, but why does the government refuse to give us a reasonable increment rather than the 5 percent they are proposing,” he said.
He mentioned that one of the most painful aspects is that government bluntly told the union that even if the economy can improve, they will not be given an increase.
He told the Telegraph that other unions are supporting the BOFEPUSU strike and have even helped send a message to SADC about the situation of the public workers in Botswana.
BOFEPUSU is demanding a 16 percent salary increment from the government.