Botswana Federation of Trade Unions

News Details

International Human Rights Day

10 Dec,2019


International Human Rights Day




Today, December 10th is the International Human Rights Day. As part of the commemoration of this year's events, the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is appealing to the Government of Botswana, Employer Organisation and all Employers to promote and human and trade union rights in Botswana. We are concerned about the growing decline of the respect for freedom of association and trade union rights in Botswana particularly in the private sector where workers continue to be intimidated and denied the right to organise.

As a labour centre and an affiliate of regional, continental and global federations BFTU on the day joins the world in staging a Global Day of Action in solidarity with the peoples, workers and trade unions of the Philippines who are being subjected to all manners of harassment, intimidation, persecution and stigmatisation by the Duterte government. We also extend our solidarity to our sister Federation Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) in their continued fight against human and trade union rights violations in our Neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, strongly condemns the recent raids and arrests of trade union leaders in the Philippines. The offensive by joint forces of the army and the police has once again targeted trade unions and labour organisations.

State-led stigmatisation of labour organisations for their ideologies has been going on for far too long in the Philippines, in contravention of the principle of freedom of association. Labour organisations are labelled as legal fronts of an underground armed struggle movement and the arrested activists are routinely alleged of possessing firearms and ammunitions implanted by state officers to justify fabricated charges. The recent raids and arrests worsen the existing coercive environment effectively preventing workers from forming and joining trade unions, and unions from pursuing legitimate activities.

It is the duty of all member states of the ILO to promote and ensure a climate free of violence, coercion and threats of any type that are aimed at trade union leaders and their families for the free exercise of the rights and freedoms set out in Conventions No.87 and No.98. This includes ensuring the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention, and the right to access fair and independent trials.

The arrests and raids further violated Section V, B (10) and (11) of the Guidelines on the Conduct of the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defence (DND), Department of Justice (DOJ), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) Relative to the Exercise of Workers' Rights and Activities (the Guidelines) in the Philippines. Acts of the state and national security forces are clearly prohibited to label, intervene in labour relations and coerce people to renounce their trade union membership. Officials are required to respect the role of DOLE in labour disputes and always comply with human rights laws and standards.

We urge the government of the Philippines to:

  1. stop the attacks and red tagging of legitimate trade union organisations and labour activists;
  2. implement the recommendations concluded by the Committee of Application of Standards of the ILO in June 2019
  3. Accept the High-Level Tripartite Mission of the ILO to visit the country at the soonest possible time.

We support the call of ITUC’s affiliates in the Philippines to urge the intervention of Secretary Silvestre Bello of DOLE with the military and police forces for:

  1. discussions and investigations at the national and regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies on the recent arrests and raids, red tagging of labour organisations;
  2. expedition of the 43 cases of extra-judicial killings submitted by the trade unions;
  3. Enforcement of the Guidelines on the Conduct of the DOLE, DILG, DND, DOJ, AFP and PNP Relative to the Exercise of Workers' Rights.

Similarly, in Zimbabwe, BFTU lauded the withdrawal of the treason charges against the ZCTU leaders. However, we are aware that the state still has the option to reinstate the same charges if it so wishes. The threats of harm to the families to the leadership of the trade unions still persist and the police have done little to investigate these threats.


We are aware that the Government of Zimbabwe is keen to re-join the Commonwealth and the Secretary of the Commonwealth will be consulting with Commonwealth governments about this possibility.

In line with the Common wealth Charter, As BFTU, we believe that the following conditions need to be placed on Zimbabwe’s re-admittance:

a.    Respect for civil liberties

b.   Urgent reforms of laws to comply with UN standards on the rights of to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association as well as alignment of laws to ILO conventions.

c.    Implementation of the recommendation of the ILO Committee on the application of standards

d.   Embracing a culture of social dialogue in the development of the socio-economic policies.

e.    Respect for the rule of law and human rights

f.     Accepting UN intervention or mediation in settling the internal political problems of Zimbabwe with the participation of Labour Unions and Civil Society broadly to agree on the way forward for the country.

The BFTU will meet with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation on this day, 10th December 2019, at 1400HRS to deliberate and share our positions on the above issues.

Yours comradely