Botswana Federation of Trade Unions

Trade unionism in Botswana dates back to 1948 when the first Trade union was formed. It was called the Francistown African Employees Union but it later succumbed to the restrictions imposed by the District Commissioner on the formation of trade unions. A subsequent number of trade unions were formed afterwards.
In April 1977, the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions was founded and historically inaugurated by the first President of the Republic of Botswana, the late Sir Seretse Khama. The formation of BFTU replaced the Botswana Trade Union and education Centre and the formation of the federation was spearheaded by the:

  1. Botswana Mining Workers Union
  2. Botswana Bank Employees Union
  3. Botswana Commercial and General Workers Union
  4. Botswana Construction Workers Union
  5. Botswana Railway workers Union

Botswana Federation of Trade Unions as a national labour movement saw it fit to establish trade unions for workers who are regarded as working semi-skilled or unskilled work. This was necessitated by the fact majority of labour law violations are predominant in those sectors.
The established unions are:

  1. Union of Private Security Workers (UPSW) it organises workers in the private security industry.
  2. Botswana Commerce and Allied Workers Union (BOCAWU) it organises workers in the commerce industry (eg. Catering)
  3. Botswana Chemical Energy and Allied Workers Union (BOCEAWU) it organises workers in the chemical energy, cleaning, petroleum industries.

Botswana Federation of Trade Unions is an affiliate of Southern Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC), International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC). The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognises BFTU’s status as the national labour centre in Botswana.
Botswana Federation of Trade Union’s mission is to “build a strong labour movement for democracy, social dialogue and sustainable development”

This is further augmented by its vision of striving to promote the interest and welfare of the workers, individual citizens and to create a free and prosperous society in Botswana.
For the mission and vision to be attained, BFTU realises that there has to be guiding values that will ensure the success of its endeavours:

  1. Social dialogue and constructive engagement it does this by advancing and defending worker’s interests at workplaces with a broader social, political and economic development agenda.
  2. Accountability, transparency and ethics it strives to promote the principle of a free and independent labour movement without the interference from government, political parties or the employer but seek to place the “voice of workers” in the political process.
  3. The third value deliberates on worker’s participatory democracy which entails promoting workers democracy and control through effective worker participation in defence of the rights.
  4. The fourth value is that of cooperation and networking with strategic allies basing on the fact that the world is now globalised and workers should respond to the effects of the process and advocate for world social justice.