PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), as a labour centre and a vanguard in the protection of human and trade union rights, we are concerned about unceasing reports of job losses in Botswana. Needless to say it is corruption and poor corporate governance process that are at the centre of job losses in the country. State owned enterprises continue to perform poorly as a result of poor monitoring and evaluation, lack of accountability and transparency. We have similarly also witnessed job losses in the private sector exacerbated by non-compliance of labour laws.
We believe in the promotion of full employment, freely chosen, gainful, sustainable and secure jobs. Recent retrenchments, liquidations and dismissals have put more people on the streets than the number employed and this is a major concern since the fourth Industrial revolution has also made job security an issue and automation has led to reduction of jobs, especially in sectors such as the banking sector and other service sectors which dominate the economy of Botswana.
In recent weeks we have been following with dismay developments at the Air Botswana which threaten the livelihood of workers since there are already reports of cutting of staff. We have been reliably informed by our Affiliate, Air Botswana Employees Union, that the Engineering Department has been given section 25 letters. It should be noted that these are the people whom a lot of money was spent developing and capacitating them over the years and also whose licenses take years to attain, not to mention that they are responsible for/and determine safety of the aircrafts.
As alluded to earlier we can still note that the two main factors which are always at the centre of job losses are also synonymous even at Air Botswana;
We noted that 16 million pula was misused, restructuring was done in 2014 and agreements not implemented and ABEU raised a motion of no confidence in May 2019 hinting mismanagement and accountability issues but the Minister did not respond.
Over the past years, Botswana government has been calling for the privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like Air Botswana but it should be noted that the benefits of privatization are not self-evident, and that efficiency, productivity, and the success of business enterprises have nothing to do with ownership, but have everything to do with the management of those enterprises.
AS BFTU we reiterate our position and call on government of Botswana to;
· Retain of the state owned enterprises, and call upon the Government as a shareholder, to stop interfering in the day to day management of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
· Reorientation or reorganization of some of the existing SOEs, to either alone or through joint ventures with foreign investors, focus on labour intensive manufacturing that will boost the economy and create more employment opportunities.
· That SOE Board of Directors must comprise men and women of impeccable credentials who can advise management professionally. BFTU is strongly against the practice of cross directorships in SOE as this brings inefficiency and laxity.
· That government should move away from ‘jobs for boys’ practice and involve in the Board of Directors, people who are stakeholders in the industry in which that SOE is operating.
· Intensify the fight against corruption and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.
· Review of laws and all provisions dealing with Insolvency / liquidation to protect employees.
· The introduction of a National Occupation Pension Fund to assist workers who face redundancy because of automation and or face retrenchment because of restructuring or company closure.