Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Union leaders to abort strike?

The leadership of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) is reportedly mooting the idea of aborting the public service strike that has been going on for three weeks.

BOFEPUSU insiders have revealed that the federation’s leadership is divided over the issue, with others feeling that the indefinite strike should be halted as it is clear that the Khama administration will not budge.

One of the leaders of BOFEPUSU’s affiliates, who spoke to The Telegraph on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the leadership is discussing the possibility of halting the strike.

“We have not yet made a formal decision, but the issue is being discussed, and we hope to have come to an agreement very soon,” he said.

He also revealed that, personally, he feels they have made their point and they should now go back to work and continue negotiations with government behind the scenes.

“I am of the view that Batswana support our cause and believe that our call for a salary hike is justified. We have made our point and we should now return to work. A protracted strike will only harm the nation, and that is not what we want,” he said.

He also said they enjoy the support and sympathy of Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers, and they are aware that Khama has ignored their advice to increase salaries.

“This is a fight between workers and one man. The decision not to award public servants a salary hike was not reached after any empirical investigation, but was pushed by a stubborn and an unreasonable man,” he said.

Labour pundits have repeatedly warned that BOFEPUSU risks losing public sympathy if they continue with the strike indefinitely. They insist that the public needs services in, for example, hospitals and schools, and they will in the end turn their ire on the striking employees if they do not get such services.

“People need public services, and they will not accept shoddy or unavailable services for ever. Public servants should go back to work or they will lose the support of the public,” they said.

The trade union leader also said they are aware that there are some among their members who are already agitating for a return to work, especially after it emerged that they will lose income for the days that they spent on strike.

“We would not want a situation whereby our membership is divided, or has lost faith in us. Our strength lies in our unity and our numbers, so if some feel that we should return to work, then we should listen to them,” he said.

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