PETITION IN SOLIDARITY WITH ZCTU AND PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE I write on behalf of Botswana Federation of Trade Unions to express our concerns in solidarity with our sister federation the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions through this petition. In the recent days, we have followed with great concern the alarming and dangerous situation faced by peacefully protesting workers including the leaders and members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in response for taking peaceful stay home action against steep fuel prices that have worsened an already unbearable high cost of living in the country. The ZCTU called for a peaceful three-day ‘Stay Away’ from 14 to 16 January 2019 demanding an end to the economic crisis faced by the country and a reversal of the over 200% increase in fuel prices announced by your government. Police and security forces violently attacked peaceful protesters by opening fire, injuring many, with reports of eight dead and over 200 arrested. The fierce crackdown further escalated with reports of heavy military and police presence on the streets and security forces arbitrarily assaulting citizens, including by entering homes to drag out and beat people in an effort to instil fear and to clampdown on dissent. Furthermore, cell and land-line communications, the internet and social media were repeatedly blocked to prevent access to information and communication. We are reliably informed that that the ZCTU President and Secretary General Comrades Peter Mutasa and Japhet Moyo respective have been arrested and charged with treasonous crime of subverting a constitutional elected government for simply exercising their fundamental trade union rights and fulfilling their mandate as trade union leaders to implement decisions of the Congress. We remain appalled that a democratic government can translate and criminalize trade union actions to such an extent. Workers have the right to express their views on the government’s economic programs, including through peaceful demonstrations in an atmosphere free of fear, intimidation, coercion, repression and violence. We reiterate that the ZCTU had called for a peaceful stay away action for three days calling on people to stay away from work and to refrain from any violent conduct. We, therefore, urge your government to end violence and guarantee the safety of all citizens. The rule of law must be restored including and end to arbitrary criminalization of trade union action and activities. In this regard we petition the Government of Zimbabwe for the immediate and unconditional release those arrested, including ZCTU President and General Secretary Comrades Peter Mutasa and Japhet Moyo respectively. Charges against those who have done nothing other than exercising their right to peaceful assembly and association should immediately be dropped. In addition, an independent judicial inquiry into the excessive violence against protesters should be instituted without delay in order to punish guilty parties and prevent the repetition of such events. We call on your government to, as a matter of urgency, to engage in good faith negotiations with the ZCTU leadership to agree on a peaceful and constructive way out of the current economic crisis with full respect for human and workers’ rights. Yours in Trust of the Working Class,
BOTSWANA FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS SPEECH AT THE 2019 JOINT SEMINAR OATUU/ACFTU on ‘ the Sino- African Community of Shared Future and the role of Trade Unions’ 14th to 20th January 2019 VENUE: Beijing, China DELIVERED BY: COMRADE THUSANG BUTALE, SECRETARY GENERAL- BFTU Distinguished Director of Proceedings please allow me to begin my speech by observing protocol. It is indeed an honour for me to address this gathering. I bring to you distinguished leaders, fraternal greetings from the leadership of BFTU and our entire affiliates. I want to thank the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) for inviting us to be part of this joint seminar and I am sure that our interactions this week will bring about fruitful deliberations that will enable us to consolidate and bolster cooperation between the Chinese and African Trade Unions, the ultimate of which is to come up with better shared ideas and initiatives that will safeguard workers as we much into the future. Comrades, allow me to introduce to you once more the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, BFTU is the oldest and most representative Federation in Botswana having been established in 1977. We represent over 25 Affiliates in the Private and Public sector. We are an affiliate of SATUCC OATUU, ITUC AFRICA and ITUC International. BFTU exists to safe guard the interest of workers in Botswana at National level. Ours is to ensure that labour laws and policies are crafted in favour of workers and further strive to ensure that oppressive legislation does not see the light of the day. For your information comrades, BFTU was at the forefront of the battle to pressurize the Botswana Government to ratify the core labour conventions as well as domesticate them. It is this historical change in our labour laws that has resulted in the unionization of the public service. We stand against and/or oppose unjust laws and campaign for their repeal or amendments. At enterprise level and sometimes working with our affiliate unions or through the structures mentioned above we ensure that workers receive decent wages commensurate with the level of productivity that they give to the production lines. BFTU continues to participate in tripartite social dialogue structures together with Government and Employers. These occur at national, regional and international level. It is for this reason that BFTU represents workers of Botswana in structures such as the Labour Advisory Board, the Minimum Wages Advisory Board, SADC Employment and Labour Sector and the ILO’s Annual Labour Conference to mention but a few. Allow me at this juncture to remind and share with you our recent battle which started back in 2016 when our parliamentarians passed a law that deems every one of us essential. By so doing Parliament took away our fundamental right to strike as the new law categorically bans any employee in essential services from taking part in a legal strike. As if that was not enough, Parliament has condemned any worker in essential services who takes part in a strike to imprisonment. BFTU has been at the fore front, with assistance of regional, continental and international Federations, to make sure that these regressive laws are amended. Currently, a labour law review committee has been set up to review all labour laws in Botswana. It is against this backdrop that I now want to draw your attention to the theme of this seminar which talks to ‘the Sino-Africa Community of Shared Future and the Role of Trade Unions’. This is a timely theme indeed and I believe we will hinge upon it to propel our cooperation to greater success in the coming years. Our expectation as the federation is that the Sino –Africa Community will grow to become a benchmark and to depict the strength of mutual cooperation and the benefits of what we can achieve by being united for a greater purpose. This seminar comes at an opportune time when cooperation between Chinese and African Trade Unions has to be fortified in the wake of bilateral relations observed between The People’s Republic of China and Various African Countries, Botswana included. These bilateral relations hinge on sharing of ideas, investment opportunities, development and research, trade as well as labour migration. They bring great potential for job creation, employment creation, skills development and cultural exchanges, but if Unions do not do their bit, the downside of these could be exploitation of workers, unproductive work, decent work deficits and increase in corruption amongst others. It is therefore crucial that the cooperation agreements between OATUU and ACFTU are strengthened and equally cooperation agreements between ACFTU and Federations such as BFTU are implemented or made effective to be beneficial to not only the organisations but to the Botswana workforce, Chinese workers in Botswana and vice-versa. Director of Proceedings, distinguished guests, let me report that BFTU and ACFTU have signed an MoU in 2015. It’s unfortunate that since that day and to this day, the MoU has not been implemented. However, our conviction is that as of today whatever challenges and hindrances which might have led to our inability to implement the MoU will be a thing of the past as the newly elected leadership is committed to ensuring that the objectives of this seminar will be achieved and we will strengthen our cooperation with ACFTU and other Chinese Trade Unions. As I conclude on my speech I wish to focus on the role of Trade Unions by reminding all of us once more that Trade Unions still remain a key player in a free and democratic society, and freedom of association is the foundation for realization of workers’ rights. For us as a democratic society we need to foster the growth of trade unions so that true economic and social justice may be realized. Comrade Director of Proceedings, dear distinguished guests, I wish to highlight the fact that trade unions play a crucial role in ensuring the protection of rights of workers and promoting their interests at the work place, national and international levels. Contrary to the vibrant and focused unions of yesteryears, today it is not uncommon to find most unions having departed from their core mandate and pursuing other interests. It is the responsibility of us leaders to ensure that unions remain focused on their mandate to serve members and one of the key expectations is to build strong networks and foster Unity amongst Trade Unions. Comrades and friends, trade unions are part of our larger society and indeed as mentioned before play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our society. It is for this reason that trade unions need to reflect more on how much they are doing to ensure a sustained future in trade unionism. In this regard we need to invest our resources and time in recruiting and training young workers on trade union matters. The theme makes a reflection on the shared Future which indeed is very relevant. But when we talk about the future it therefore becomes very necessary and relevant to include our young people. As a young Unionist I am duty bound to remind you to ensure that part of our strategies are to ensure a robust programme for young workers. Director of Proceedings let me thank you for the opportunity you have given me to lay down these few points. I wish you all fruitful deliberations in this seminar, let us leave this beautiful country more enlightened by our interactions. PULA……. VIVA OATUU VIVA, VIVA ACFTU VIVA… Viva Workers Power…..
ITUC AND PSI VISIT- FOLLOW UP ON CAS IMPLEMENTATION To help prepare Botswana trade unions to effectively participate in the implementation of the CAS conclusions, a delegation composed of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) and Public Services International (PSI) undertook a mission to Botswana for a strategic planning meeting, from 31st July to 1st August 2018. Federations in Botswana continued to work together on making sure that CAS conclusions are implemented. This led to the development of an implementation plan which was proposed and agreed on as follows; There would be a Workers’ Working Group (WWG) consisting of 4 members from either of the two federations. Given that both federations are represented by 2 members in the Labour Review Committee (LRC) established by the Government, the proposal was to include these two members in the Working Group and then nominate two additional members. It was also agreed that the General Secretaries of the two federations are to be part of this working group. The Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the Workers’ Working Group are to: Lead the Botswana Trade Unions’ technical position into the labour review process. Make sure the two federations discuss and present their opinions and positions (in writing) on time. Harmonise the two federations’ positions on the offending legislations. Produce a unified document from the trade unions on the laws to be amended. Consult with the legal/technical adviser in the process. Liaise with the ILO consultant to make sure the opinions and positions are addressed and reflected in the consultant’s work and proposals. The laws identified as infringing on workers’ rights and therefore requiring a review with a view to amending them are as follows: The Employment Act (EA) Trade Union and Employers’ Organisations Act (TUEOA) The Trade Disputes Act (TDA) The Prisons Act (PA) The Public Service Act (PSA) It was also agreed that the services of a legal / technical advisor would be needed to help facilitate the effective preparation of the WWG submissions, and the content and participation in the labour law review process. This decision was reached on the premise that previous impressive trade unions engagements have benefited from the services of technical and legal assistance. The two federations agreed to jointly identify and select an adviser that can assist accordingly. ILO-ACTRAV was identified as a possible funder for the technical adviser fees and other costs that will be incurred in this process. Other possible funders will be explored but, in the event that such a funder is not found, the two Organisations have agreed to split the costs between themselves. To ensure a credible and improved communication channel with other stakeholders, notably with respect to the national labour law review process, it was agreed that both General Secretaries of the two federations will be the official Spokespersons of the WWG. It was also agreed that communications by the General Secretaries should be mainly through formal mediums, written and co-signed, after it has been endorsed by the organs of the two federations.
COSATU and SATUCC statement on Botswana case, Convention 87- ILO Conference, 2018 The statement was delivered by Comrade Zingiswa Losi, COSATU – SOUTH AFRICA During the 2018 ILC in support of the Workers of Botswana case regarding Botswana’s violation of convention 87. Southern African Trade Unions Coordinating Council (SATUCC) and all its affiliates in the SADC region align themselves with this statement. The various pieces of legislation that the Committee of Experts have noted in this case as deserving of urgent and real amendments, notably the Trade Dispute Act (ACT), the Public Services Bill and the Prison Services Act as crafted by the Government of Botswana were designed to make workers humans without rights. We are concerned about this development, which is fast becoming a trend in most countries, especially in Southern Africa. Our worries are hinged on the fact that this trend is injurious to work morale, industrial democracy and productivity. We are equally worried that the Botswana government continues to ignore genuine efforts by the national social partners, especially the workers, as well as the Committee of Experts and this Conference Committee. Workers in the traffic, Police and Prisons sector like all other workers in South Africa enjoy the right to organise, form organisations of their choice and have representation, including collective bargaining rights. This is in conformity with our constitution and the realization that society gets better, discontent better managed and the chances for attainment of social justice increase when people can express grievances through organised groups. COSATU considers this an irreducible minimum for advancing shared progress. Thus, we have continued to showcase POPCRU, a trade union organisation organising Police and workers in the prisons sector has a membership of 28 246 out of 37 613 officials to buttress this point. Clearly, their membership of and activities in trade union have never posed threats to the stability and cohesion of the country or compromised their professionalism in carrying out their official duties. It is therefore not useful and wise for the Botswana Government to continue to mouth the argument that prisons services workers are members of a disciplined force that cannot be allowed to freely and genuinely organise. To the contrary, we are convinced that the disciplined nature of their profession will be an advantage in the running of their independent trade union organisation. The tendency to systematically and administratively stifle and shrink spaces for civil liberties including the rights of workers in Prisons Services is dangerous for economic and societal stability. It is pretentious to say we can live with the silence of the graveyard. It is worse than playing the ostrich. Thus, organised workers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reject this style and approach. SATUCC strongly urges this Conference Committee to call on the Government of Botswana to as a matter of decency, reason and justice to preserve and respect the sanctity of the provisions of this Convention, which is unambiguous, persuasive and practical as to the rights of these workers to freely organize, bargain and to take measures in the protection of these provisions without let or hindrance.
Ghana federation in Support of Botswana Workers at the 2018 ILC 107 CAS, 2018 Speech of Workers Delegate from Ghana Ghana expressed concern regarding the TUEOA as as evidenced by their speech bellow; ´We are concerned with the Trade Union and Employers Organization Act and would like to highlight section 43 which provides for the inspection of accounts, books and documents of a trade union by the Registrar at ‘any reasonable time’. This provision is a clear overreach by the State into the internal affairs of the union with the real consequence that union activities will be self-censored to favour the government and not the members of the union. Even when the union musters the courage to assert its rights, there is the real and very high likelihood that the government will retaliate by instigating spurious allegations relying on this broad power to inspect accounts and books and documents of the union. In this direction, we note the previous comments of the experts that legislative provisions which regulate in detail the internal functioning of workers‟ and employers‟ organizations pose a serious risk of interference and is therefore incompatible with the Convention. In Ghana we have a simple framework within which we enjoy the greatest possible autonomy as unions to enable us function effectively without looking over our shoulders. When we file our annual financial and other reports, the social partners do it within the sole objective of protecting the interests of members and guaranteeing the democratic functioning of our organizations. Our activities and resources are from and for our members. They have the primary right to scrutinize and hold leaders accountable for running the organization. Governments should not couch language in law to create any second level financial accountability mechanism as a pretext to interfere in legitimate trade union activities. We call on the government of Botswana to amend the relevant legislation.”
IndustriALL intervention on C.87 concerning Botswana The IndustriALL Global Union, representing over 50 million workers in mining, energy, textile and manufacturing sectors throughout the world, including members of three trade unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union in Botswana supported the Workers of Botswana case and condemned the violation of convention 87 by the Botswana Government The continued violation of workers’ rights in Botswana as a result of the Botswana governments’ continued failure to abide by the provisions of the ILO Convention 87 and the requests of this committee to take steps towards to comply with the said Convention. This Conference Committee in 2017, noted various submissions concerning new amendments of the Trade Disputes Act (TDA). Till date, no concrete progress has been reported in spite of the abundant goodwill and dispositions of the social partners, especially the workers. IndustriALL is deeply concerned by the attitude of the Government of Botswana, a concern deeply shared by workers broadly in the country. In particular, we note that the TDA is draconian in its sweeping broad application across all sectors and that is a threat to economic and labour peace. Reports from our affiliates in Botswana make precisely this point where our members and workers in the mining industry experience the following violations deriving directly from the TDA. 1. In the mining industry, the TDA has been employed as a tool to willy-nilly undermine the rights of workers, including firing and declaring those redundant with no care for procedures. This is the case of 5702 workers fired by BCL Mine and Tati Nickel Mining Company, owned 100% by the Botswana government. 2. Workers in positions pertaining to the bargaining unit are intentionally removed and prevented from belonging to the union by abusively re-classifying them as workers part of “essential services” or by excluding them (?) exclusions. This denies their right to bargain with employers and to strike. This is the case with workers in the diamond cutting, sorting and sales services simply because these categories of work have been classified as Essential Services. 3. The Commissioner of Labour and Social Security is held captive to the Trade Disputes Act as appeals to the commissioner, especially by those workers who have been sweepingly classified as Essential Services do not get the needed audience and attention to their grievances. The administration of disputes related to Essential Services is being treated as acts of magnanimity and not as laid down industrial relations necessary in employment relationship. This demonstrates a lack of respect for genuine workers Organisations in Botswana and a lack of constructive social dialogue. We reiterate our demand to the Government of Botswana to take appropriate measures to ensure that the Trade Disputes Act (TDA) is in full conformity with Convention 87, and to engage in genuine social dialogue, with Botswana unions. These were the words said by a committee member representing IndustriAll Global Union.
RE: WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY Botswana Federation of Trade Unions Board and its affiliates would like to wish all media houses and the press at large a productive and eventful world press freedom day. The 2018 celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day are led by UNESCO and organised by the Agency and Government of the Republic of Ghana taking place in ACCRA, Ghana since Wednesday 02 May and ending today Thursday 03 May 2018.05.03 The Theme is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media Justice and the rule of law’ and will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. The Federation strongly values and supports the freedom of the press and will continuously advocate for the same. The press plays an important role in information dissemination across the globe. It is also through their efforts that pertinent issues are brought to light for public knowledge and debate. Major investigations-worldwide and in Botswana-on issues of grand corruption and conspiracies have been unearthed by the press when normal checks and balances in civil society had failed. The Press can be viewed as a control measure to the Executive, legislature and government. It should be allowed to achieve its aims without interference or fear. This is why freedom of the press is a fundamental right that should be enjoyed by all concerned. Recently we have witnessed as governments across the region have tried to curtail the rights and freedom of the press. Locally in Botswana we have received reports of Journalists who have been jailed and intimidated for doing their job. BFTU strongly condemns the curtailing of essential rights of the press which limit freedom of speech and expose the country to corruption due to unaccountability by state institutions towards the public. This year’s theme has covered all areas of concern regarding the attack by governments on freedom of the press. It calls for the independence of the judicial system and education of the press on the functions of the system. It also focuses on the accountability of the state institutions towards the public especially in the wake of recent developments in our country regarding the National Petroleum Fund and the DISS. Once more, we wish the Press fruitful deliberations in Ghana and we also look forward to the outcomes of the event. Viva Press Freedom Viva…..
Botswana Federation of Trade Unions and the nation at large learnt with great shock about the brutal rape of a female nurse at the Extension 2 clinic on Sunday (22nd April 2018). What is more shocking to note is that this unfortunate incident happened inside the hospital where there were security officers, other workers and patients. BFTU joins other commentators and the public to condemn in strongest terms the brutal and inhumane act of rape by the perpetrator upon our fellow worker. The Sunday incident clearly shows that security and safety of workers in general and shift workers specifically needs to be enhanced since working at night and in some instances alone exposes workers to greater risks such as the one in question. The workplace should be a safe and secure environment for workers; therefore, we urge all Ministries and private organisations to adopt procedures that safeguard workers from such attacks and other threats to their safety and security. One of the struggles of workers is to fight for safe and secure working conditions and therefore we call upon all workers to stand up and ensure that their working environment is improved by employers. Workers should refuse to work under unsafe and insecure working environment as this is their right. Botswana Police services should also be more involved in ensuring the safety of the workers and public particularly in public places such as hospitals. Sexual violence transcends all socioeconomic boundaries therefore all cases must be investigated and perpetrators brought to book so that justice prevails. BFTU and all its affiliates stand in solidarity with the victim and urge her co-workers, community and employer to give her the support and assist her as necessary to ensure that all the necessary processes and counselling is done to prepare her to get back to work. As we commemorate the World Day on Safety and Health in the Work Place on Saturday 28th April we call upon all workers to remember the ordeal that our beloved sister has gone through and all the workers who have suffered because of unsafe and insecure workplaces.
BFTU 14TH ELECTIVE CONGRESS MAJESTIC HOTEL, PALAPYE 28 - 30TH APRIL 2018 PROGRAMME DAY 1 – 27TH APRIL ARRIVAL OF GENDER COMMITTEE AND YOUTH COUNCIL DELEGATES DAY 2 – 28TH APRIL ARRIVAL OF ALL THE DELEGATES FOR THE CONGRESS 08.00HRS - REGISTRATION OF THE DELEGATES FOR THE GENDER COMMITTEE 0.9.00HRS – 10.00HRS OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE GENDER COMMITTEE CONGRESS 11.00HRS – 12.30HRS BRAINSTORMING AND ADOPTION OF THE PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE GENDER COMMITTEE FOR 2018. 12.30 – 13.00HRS ELECTION OF GENDER COMMITTEE EXECUTIVE OFFICERS 13.00 – 13.30HRS CLOSING OF THE GENEDR COMMITTEE CONGRESS 13.30 – 14.30 LUNCH BREAK 14.30 – 15.00HRS REGISTRATION OF THE DELEGATES OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL 15.00 – 16.00HRS OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL 16.00 – 17.00HRS BRAINSTORMING AND ADOPTION OF THE 2018 NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL PROGRAMME OF ACTION 17.00 – 18.00HRS ELECTION OF THE EXECUTIVE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL 18.00 – 18.30HRS CLOSING OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL 20.00 – 23.00hrs ELECTORAL DEBATE NIGHT DAY 3 – 29TH APRIL 8.30 – 13.00HRS OFFICAL OPENING (REFER A SEPARATE PROGRAMME ON OFFICIAL OPENING) 10.00HRS – 18.00HRS VOTING FOR EXECUTIVE BOARD AND REGIONAL COMMITTEES CHAIPERSONS AND SECRETARIES RUNS PARALELL WITH CONGRESS LUNCH BREAK 14.30HRS – 19.00HRS COMMISSIONS IN SESSION DAY 4 – 30TH APRIL 09.00 – 14.00HRS CONGRES IN SESSION CREDENTIALS READ RESULTS OF THE ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED REPORTS OF COMMISSIONS PRESENTED AND CONCLUSIONS ADOPTED REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL PRESENTED AND ADOPTED AUDITED FINANCIAL REPORTS PRESENTED AND ADOPTED ADOPTION OF MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS 15.30 – 17.30hrs OFFICAL CLOSING (REFER TO A SEPARATE OFFICAL CLOSING PROGRAMME) 19.00HRS TILL LATE CLOSING PARTY FOR ALL DELEGATES HOSTED BY THE INCOMING PRESIDENT DAY 5 – 1ST MAY 2018 MAY DAY COMMEMORATIONS PROGRAMME (A detailed separate programme will be provided)
TO: All BFTU Affiliates FROM: Secretary General DATE: 10 April 2018 Dear Comrades RE: BFTU 14th ELECTIVE CONGRESS 1. Reference is made to the above subject matter. 2. I wish to confirm that BFTU 14th Elective Congress will be held at Majestic Five Hotel, Palapye on 28th – 30th April 2018 starting at 0800hrs. I thank you. Yours Sincerely ……………………………… Gadzani Mhotsha (Mr) SECRETARY GENERAL
CONGRATULATORY STATEMENT TO THE INCOMING PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), all its 25 affiliates representing over 70, 000 workers in Private, Parastatal and Public sectors, Executive Board and Secretariat, would like to take this opportunity to express our profound and heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi on his appointment as The Fifth President of the Republic of Botswana. We recognize and appreciate his extensive experience and leadership as demonstrated in his previous position as the Vice President of the republic particularly promotion of dialogue and advocating for amiable relationships between labour and capital. We believe that President Masisi is poised to provide model leadership to the country, SADC region, African continent and globally including sustenance of political stability, Peace and Security in Botswana on our road to the 2019 elections. BFTU, as a tripartite partner, will continue working with Government, the Business community and civil society organisations to promote workers’ rights and better working conditions. We earnestly look forward, under President Masisi’s leadership, to creation of decent jobs, youth employment, sustainable poverty eradication interventions, better social protection initiatives and coverage, protection of worker’s rights through conformity to ILO conventions as well as comprehensive review of Botswana labour laws to ensure their alignment to ILO standards. Congratulations once more to the President, wishing him every success in his new duties. We trust that he will continue to work for the improvement of Botswana Thusang Butale Assistant Secretary General
BFTU STATEMENT ON CHOPPIES HYPER STORE STRIKE ON MONDAY 26 MARCH 2018 The wild-cat strike by workers at Choppies Hyper Store in Gaborone should come as a wake-up call to all concerned parties. BFTU came to know about the problems at the said store on Thursday 22 March 2018 through some of the affected workers who complained among other things, long working hour, unpaid overtime, unclear procedures of calculating time worked, and refusal by the store management to give workers their signed contracts or employment cards. On Friday 23 March 2018 BFTU collected some of the necessary documents from the workers to try and verify the allegations they were making against the employer and to see how they can be assisted with their grievances. We also contacted the store management about the contracts issue and a lady by the name Onalethata Gabanapelo confirmed that she is responsible for making the workers to sign their contracts but was under instruction that she should under no circumstances give them to employees to keep. She immediately referred BFTU to the store manager one Mr Leburu who denied denying to give employees their contracts. When pressed further and informed that his junior Ms Gabanapelo has confirmed the store policy he demanded to be given the list of workers complaining about that. He further said he cannot discuss the matter over the phone and invited BFTU to the store for discussions, but later changed and said he will call on Monday to give his side of the story. What happened on Monday is a culmination of long standing grievances of workers that went unaddressed by the employer for an unprecedented period. Our assessment of the case is that the workers have genuine issues which they wanted their management to address but the latter did not create time for that and simply dismissed them. It is clear that management at Choppies Hyper Store have no regard for workers’ rights and were outright trampling on law by entering into contract with workers then refusing to give them the copies of their contracts. As a result workers could not seek recourse on whether the contracts they signed were legal and fair. BFTU wishes to call upon Choppies Hyper Store and the Choppies Chain Stores Management to respect the rights of workers and refrain from breaking the law. The Department of Labour and Social Security should shoulder part of the blame to the strike that took place. The goings at Choppies Hyper call to question the level of inspections that the Department conducts. If a large chain store like Choppies can flout the law by not adhering to legal employment contracts requirements, what of smaller employers who are struggling to survive? It is an indictment to the work of the Department to have such big companies to go unchecked on their operations. We call upon the Minister of Employment Labour Productivity to crack the whip on the Department to ensure that such issues do not characterize their work. Workers themselves should wake-up and ensure that they have a strong union that represents their interests in the workplace. BFTU is working with them as a National Labour Centre but it is important that they join a registered union that can be present at the workplace through shop stewards. The current impasse presents a good opportunity for all Choppies workers and not only has those at Choppies Hyper to team up with those that already joined the unions to do so without further delay. Botswana Wholesalers Furniture and Retail Workers Union and CASAWU have been trying to recruit workers employed by Choppies with very little success. Time has come for all these workers to throw away their chains and join these unions. BFTU has been and will continue to support these unions to ensure that Choppies workers are unionized and their rights are protected. BFTU has advised Choppies employees that the strike that took place on the 26th March was an unlawful strike since it did not follow the necessary legal requirements as stipulated by Botswana laws. We are also concerned and would like to disapprove all those who encourage workers to disobey the law for their own ends while being aware of the weakness of our law to protect them workers under such circumstances. However, we believe that the procedure to be followed for industrial actions is too stringent and stifles workers right to ventilate grievances when they have no other avenues to have them addressed. More should also be done to ensure protection of workers during industrial actions. Lastly, BFTU wishes to thank all those who came in support of the workers during their trying time. It must be understood that workers value their jobs but are sometimes pushed beyond the limit to take drastic measures to protect their rights and interests. We want to thank the store management for cooperating with us and agreeing to enter into discussions with workers representatives, BFTU, CASAWU and the Department of Labour to try and resolve the problem. We trust that today’s meeting between Management will go a long way to finding lasting solutions on the grievances raised. We remain available to assist the parties arrive at win-win outcomes.
Dear Comrades BOPEU BECOMES THE LATEST BFTU AFFILIATE 1. Reference is made to the above subject matter. 2. This is to inform that Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has been accepted as the latest affiliate of BFTU. BOPEU brings with itself a 35 000 strong membership from across the entire public sector into the BFTU fold. 3. Join me to congratulate BOPEU for this wise move and welcome them into the National Labour Center. We hope that the coming in of BOPEU into BFTU will encourage other unions to follow suit.
TO: All BFTU Affiliates FROM: Secretary General DATE: 18 December 2017 Dear Comrades RE: OFFICE CLOSURE FOR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS 1. Reference is made to the above subject matter. 2. Please note the office will close on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 at 1300hrs for festive holidays and will open on Monday 8 January 2018. 3. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year, travel safely and have blessed holidays. Yours Sincerely ……………………………… Gadzani Mhotsha (Mr) SECRETARY GENERAL
The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) would like to react to a recent press statement from the Botswana Government entitled “The ILO Does Not Blacklist Countries”. We are more perplexed by the contents of the statement than its heading. To start with it is probably correct that ‘blacklisting’ is not the language or terminology you will find within the corridors of the ILO. We do not even know if there is anyone, particularly from BFTU, who ever used this kind of terminology. To understand what the recent conclusions of the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) of the International Labour Conference (ILC) meant to Botswana there are basically two things we should look into. Frist it is the methods that the ILO uses in enforcing or supervising the conventions and recommendations it has adopted. Secondly, we need to understand what the conclusions on Botswana were during the recent ILC session. In dealing with the supervisory mechanism of the ILO, we need first to look into its founding document, the Constitution. The preamble of the ILO constitution recognizes the establishment of a universal and lasting peace based on social justice. It further recognizes unjust practices, hardships and privation meted upon a large group of workers of this world. It then zeroes in to affirm that there is an urgent need to reverse the status-quo to avert unrest and protect peace and harmony threatened by the prevailing conditions of work. This was and still remains the basis of the ILO’s existence, to continually improve the conditions of work by among other things observing and promoting workers’ rights such as the right to freedom of association, the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining which are enshrined in Convention 87. Standard setting and promotion of their implementation is therefore at the centre of the ILO’s business. To achieve its objectives the ILO has since its inception developed and adopted international labour standards in form of conventions recommendations. Conventions are international treaties which are binding upon ratification by member states while recommendations are non-binding guidelines for implementation of conventions. To ensure compliance with ratified conventions, the ILO has devised supervisory mechanisms. Member states are required by article 22 of the ILO Constitution to submit biennial report on implementation in law and practice of the core conventions they have ratified which includes convention 87 under which Botswana appeared before the CAS. Through such reporting the ILO’s Committee of experts after examining them can then either make observations or direct request in regard to the application of the conventions. These are geared to ensure that the member state complies with the requirements or the provisions of the said convention. The procedure stated above is only the basic or the regular supervisory mechanism. Other mechanisms involve complaints and representations by other member states and social partners where violation of ratified conventions has occurred. Such complaints can be dealt with by the Committee of Experts or the Committee on Freedom Association (CFA) if the complaint is about freedom of association and then by the CAS. The CAS then examines cases brought before them and draws up conclusions that have to be implemented to resolve the complaint or representations. Such conclusions are binding to the Member state in question contrary to what the statement from the Government of Botswana suggests. The ILO deals with cases involving member states in a progressive manner. But what were the conclusions in the recent case of Botswana before the CAS. We reproduce the conclusions word for word below: 1The Committee took note of the oral statements made by the Government representative and the discussion that followed. Taking into account the discussion, the Committee called upon the Government of Botswana to: ■ take appropriate measures that ensure that the labour and employment legislation grants members of the prison service the rights guaranteed by the Convention; ■ ensure that the Trade Disputes Act is in full conformity with Convention No. 87, and engage in social dialogue, with the further technical assistance of the ILO; ■ amend the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act, in consultation with employers’ and workers’ organizations, to bring these laws into conformity with the Convention. The Committee called upon the Government of Botswana to develop a time-bound action plan together with the social partners in order to implement these conclusions. The Committee urged the Government to continue availing itself of ILO technical assistance in this regard and to report progress to the Committee of Experts before its next meeting in November 2017. The language used by the CAS is very clear and there is no way it suggests that the Botswana Government has an option not to comply with these conclusions. We want to draw attention to the words ‘called upon’. The meaning of these two words used in this manner is to; demand, require, order and request, among others. In all the variant synonyms there is no where it suggest an option not to comply. It is therefore, wrong for the Government of Botswana to try and downplay the seriousness of the outcomes of the recent ILC in regard to the case of violation of Convention 87. The above conclusions are to be implemented by the Government of Botswana and report back to the ILO. Failure by the Government to report positively will attract further examination by the Committee of Experts and the CAS and may result with Botswana being placed under a special paragraph, which is tantamount to ‘blacklisting’. This however, will not be the end of the story as continued violations may lead to further actions such as high level tripartite mission to the country and a possible case before the International Court of Justice. It would seem the Botswana Government does not take the ILO and its work seriously. BFTU is concerned as to what is likely to happen following the Government press statement in question. We are questioning Government’s genuineness and commitment to the undertakings it made before the CAS in Geneva. We challenge government to retract this statement and make a public commitment to implementation of the 2017 conclusions of the Committee on Application of Standards of the International Labour Conference.
Statement The Nation mourns its Second President Sir Ketumile Joni Quett Masire who passed on last Thursday. Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) its 25 Affiliates and Associated Trade Unions joins the entire Nation in celebrating a life well lived. It was during Sir Masire's leadership that we have seen great strides in improving our industrial relations. Key labour legislative frameworks were introduced during his time of leadership. We saw the promulgation of the Trade Unions and Employers Organizations Act in 1984 and the Trade Dispute Act in 1992 (TDA). The TDA came with the establishment of the first Industrial Court with exclusive jurisdiction of labour disputes. Before his relinquishing of power in 1998 Sir Masire ensured that all Core Conventions of the ILO are ratified to pave way for their domestication and thus ushering in a new dispensation of industrial relations especially in the public sector. Sir Ketumile Masire is to be buried on Thursday 29 June 2017 in Kanye. BFTU respects the choice by his family to bury him on this day. However, we regret that many workers who would have loved to be part of the proceedings of Sir Ketumile Masire's send-off will not be able to make it as they will be at work. Whereas Government has announced that Thursday will not be declared a public holiday to enable all who desire to be part of the send-off of Our Father, we believe it would have been ideal to have the day declared a public holiday. Sir Ketumile Masire's stature is befitting such a gesture from the Nation he led for 18 years with excellence. We believe that such a decision is not too late to make and urge His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana to exercise this honour and declare Thursday 29th June 2017 a public holiday. Should the above desire not happen, we wish to plead with employers (including Government) that, they should exercise their benevolence and grant those workers who wish to go to Kanye for Sir Ketumile Masire's burial leave of absence to pay their last respects.
Sir Ketumile Quett Masire 1925 – 2017 Botswana Federation of Trade Unions would like to extend its condolences to comrade Sir Ketumile Masire’s family, loved ones and the nation of Botswana. The labour movement in Botswana remembers ‘Quett’ for the immense contributions and strides he took on behalf of workers in Botswana. As the second president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998 it is worth noting that 14 of the 15 ILO conventions were ratified during his tenure as the President. This on its own speaks volumes about his activism in promotion of workers’ rights considering that only one convention has been ratified by Botswana Since then. It was also during his tenure that the Industrial court was established and he also promoted social dialogue which paved a way for the advancement of opportunities to obtain decent and productive work in Botswana. Even after retiring from politics he continued to drive efforts to promote peace, good governance and political stability both locally and internationally through various foundations and Institutions. He was a leader of note and his good deeds will remain in our heart and in the history books of Botswana where he will never be forgotten. Once more we are deeply saddened by the loss and offer our support, thoughts and well wishes to his loved ones, Batswana, Africans and everyone he has touched over the years. May his soul rest in eternal peace
I.L.O FINDINGS ON BOTSWANA CASE Having listened to submissions made , the Committee on Application of standards concluded that the Government of Botswana have violated I.L.O Conventions and that corrective measures ought to be made . Consequently the Committee ordered that ; 1. That Government of Botswana allow Prisons Service employees to unionise in compliance with I.L.O Convention 87. 2. That there be amendment of Trade Dispute Act for conformity with Convention 87. 3. That there be amendment of Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act to align it to I.L.O Standards and other national laws . 4. That Government of Botswana continue to liase with I.L.O Technical Committee for holistic review of Labour Laws in Botswana for alignment to international standards . 5. That the Government of Botswana in consultation with tripartite partners develop a time bound action plan of implementation of the direction by I.L.O 6. That Government of Botswana report progress made to the Committee of Application of standards on or before November 2017.
BFTU STATEMENT ON THE BOTSWANA CASE BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON THE APPLICATION OF STANDARDS (CAS) OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE (ILC) The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) wishes to react to some media, including social media, reports that have been trending lately in connection with what is going on at the ILC and particularly in regard to the Botswana case that is before the CAS. To begin with BFTU is represented at the Conference by its Secretary General comrade Gadzani Mhotsha supported by comrades from BOPEU being Masego Mogwera, Topias Marenga, Tlhabologo Galekhutlhe, Sethunya Ruda and Nametso Makepe. At the CAS BFTU is represented by Gadzani Mhotsha and Nametso Makepe as his Adviser while the other comrades are at the other three committees. This means that we have representation in all the committees of the 2017 ILC. There has been reports that BFTU is a spectator at the CAS while BOFEPUSU has been busy making presentations to the ILC or the CAS about Botswana’s violation of Convention 87 of the ILO. We wish to clarify this matter in two ways: First there is no way BOFEPUSU can make presentations before the CAS or the ILC Plenary as they don’t have speaking rights in either Committee. Speaking rights at the ILC Plenary are held by the Titular delegate and in Botswana’s case it is the BFTU Secretary General Gadzani Mhotsha. Advisers can only speak with permission from the Titular delegate. At the CAS or any other committee speaking rights are held by the designated titular delegate for that committee and our Titular delegate at the CAS is Gadzani Mhotsha who will be making the presentation of the Botswana case when it is due. Again any designated Adviser can only speak with permission from the Titular delegate. None of BOFEPUSU comrades are designated as advisers in this regard and will explain this later. Secondly, neither BOFEPUSU or BFTU could by now have made presentations before the CAS because the Botswana case has not been called up as yet. The case will be called up on Tuesday 13 June during the morning session of the CAS. Before then we will be meeting tomorrow (Friday 9 June) as workers to prepare for the case. The main issue will be to ensure that we have other worker organizations who will speak in support of our case. Further it will be to concretize the content of our presentation. So far we can disclose that the speakers on this case will comprise of the Chairperson of the Workers Group of the CAS, BFTU Secretary General, COSATU representative and ZCTU Zimbabwe representative. Going back to the question of why BOFEPUSU does not have speaking rights in the ILC structures. Representation at the ILO for social partners (Workers and Employers) is through the most representative of their organizations and in the case of Botswana workers it is BFTU. The ILO constitution provides that delegates to the ILC may be accompanied by advisers who are selected in agreement with the most representative body and once again in the case of Botswana it is BFTU. Government cannot impose an adviser to a titular delegate. BOFEPUSU delegates to the 2017 ILC were nominated by the Botswana Government without agreement or consultation with BFTU. Such nomination is invalid and we have brought this to the Government’s attention and the latter ignored our protest. As such BOFEPUSU cannot legitimately be advisers to BFTU when the latter had not agreed with their nomination. BFTU has its own advisers that it has nominated and these are the legitimate advisers. But most importantly BOFEPUSU refused an invitation by BFTU to occupy the position of Advisers. On the case before the CAS the facts are as follows: The case is based on the report that was submitted by BFTU to the Committee of Experts of the ILO on 1st September 2016 and the Comments made by BFTU on 2016 Government report to the ILO on ratified conventions. These two reports are captured in the 2017 Report of the Committee of Experts (pages 61-63). It is through this report that cases for discussion are generated. For the workers the process started with a meeting in March 2017 which was held in Cote dVoire. BFTU was part of this meeting and we did lobby our colleagues to have our case listed in the top 40 countries. The Cote dVoire list was further subjected to scrutiny in April in Brussels and what emerged was the preliminary list of 40 countries. In all these processes Botswana workers were represented by BFTU and at no time were our colleagues BOFEPUSU involved. The list of 40 was trimmed down to the last 24 cases during the ILC and this happened between Sunday 4 June and Monday 5 June 2017. This process involves the CAS Workers Group Spokesperson and Employers Group Spokesperson. The rest of the members of the CAS are not involved. The agreed last 24 is then adopted by the CAS and for this current sitting this happened on Tuesday 6 June 2017. As stated above Botswana workers are represented by Gadzani Mhotsha and Nametso Makepe in the CAS and none of BOFEPUSU members is a member of this Committee or any Committee at the 2017 ILC. It will be therefore impossible for them to make presentations to the CAS or any Committee of the ILC. The list of the members of the CAS and all other committees of the is accessible through the ILC website. Where we stand Botswana has been shortlisted among the last 24 countries violating ILO conventions and is due to appear before the CAS on the morning of Tuesday 13 June 2017 as stated above. The information that has been trending about the Botswana case being presented or discussed is false. When the case comes up on Tuesday it will presented by the BFTU Titular delegate comrade Gadzani Mhotsha who will be supported by other trade union federations in the region and hopefully from beyond. It is evident that BOFEPUSU badly wants to be part of this case. BFTU has never barred them from participating in this case. In fact, since last year BFTU has tried several times to have BOFEPUSU participate in this matter but the latter snapped these efforts. Even trying to get Public Service Internal (PSI) to persuade them failed. On 23 May 2017 the BFTU Secretary General (in his capacity as the Titular delegate on the workers’ side) wrote an email to the BOFEPUSU Secretary General inviting him and his delegation to the ILC for a meeting on Monday 29 May to prepare for the ILC. This email was ignored. However, on Monday 29 May 2017 at about 10.00hrs the BFTU Secretary General sent an SMS to the BOFEPUSU Secretary General reminding him about the meeting and emphasizing on its importance and this SMS was ignored as well. Clearly BOFEPUSU was not willing to work with BFTU on this case. It was only on Tuesday 6 June 2017 while attending the CAS meeting that comrade Rari, BOFEPUSU Secretary General, approached comrade Mhotsha, BFTU Secretary General, desiring to discuss working together at the ILC. The latter pointed out that it was not convenient as the CAS was in session and that the issue can be discussed latter. Later in the afternoon comrade Mhotsha was attacked by Johnson Motshwarakgole accompanied by Samuel Molaodi and Ketlhalefile Motshegwa. They were later joined by Tobokani Rari. They demanded that Mhotsha should remove Nametso Makepe as his adviser and put Motshegwa instead. Motshwarakgole commanded Motshegwa to occupy Mhotsha’s seat as he sought to depose the latter. He further threatened to beat up Mhotsha whom he called ‘lelatswa thipa la puso’ and ‘small boy who knows nothing and must be taught a lesson’. BFTU is taken aback by the behaviour of BOFEPUSU leaders particularly at the ILC. This behaviour leaves much to be desired and is uncalled for. Such behaviour must be condemned with contempt it deserves. We have thus taken steps and complained to both the ILO and the Botswana Government to take appropriate action against the members of BOFEPUSU responsible for harassing the BFTU Secretary General while on national duty.
Botswana has been listed no. 5 in the the last 24 of the countries violating ILO conventions. the List is to be adopted on the 06th June 2017. This development follows after the list of top forty (40) rogue states earmarked by the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) was reduced to 24. The 106th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) is currently ongoing in Geneva, Switzerland from today (5th) to the 16th June 2017. It is now common knowledge that BFTU has vehemently opposed the new Trade Disputes Act (TDA) as an impediment to progressive labour movement. The said TDA makes a wide range of industries essential service, thus technically taking away their right to strike as a bargaining tool. BFTU has attended the 106t session of the ILO conference with the main aim of getting the government of Botswana before the Committee of the Application of Standards for violation of worker rights. This has been achieved and we believe that our efforts will eventually lead to the retraction of the current TDA. As the Botswana’s Labour Center we will continue to relentlessly pursue the protection of the rights and interests of workers by all means necessary and we would like to thank our affiliates and partners for their continued support.
BFTU’S STATEMENT ON BOTSWANA’S LISTING AMONG THE TOP 40 ILO MEMBER STATES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE FINAL LIST OF 25 TO APPEAR BEFORE THE CAS IN JUNE 2017 It is now official that Botswana has made it to the last 40 of the member states of the ILO who are earmarked to appear before the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) in June 2017. This is as per a communication from the Director of the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO to all Members States on 5th May 2017. This is history in the making for a country that has been showered with praises for being the best democracy in Africa. The listing of Botswana comes after the country violated Convention 87 of the ILO by enacting the new Trade Dispute Act that banned the right to strike to large portion of workers among them diamond sorting and cutting, teachers, immigration and customs services. Following this violation Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), which is the officially ILO recognized worker organization, filed a report with the Committee of Experts on Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) in September 2016. Our report was considered by the CEACR in November 2016 and is captured by the 2016 CEARC Report. In March 2017 BFTU was among the African Trade Unions who gathered in Grand Bassam, Cote dVoire to discuss the shortlisting of African countries to appear before the CAS during the 2017 ILC. We successfully managed to have Botswana listed among the top countries in Africa. It is this ranking that has influenced the social partners in the ILO supervisory system to agree to have Botswana listed among the top 40 rogue states. The list of 40 is a preliminary list which will have to be trimmed down to 25 by the CAS. Only the last 25 countries will have to appear before the CAS. BFTU believes it has a very strong case against the Botswana Government and we are positive that Botswana will make the last 25. Convention 87 which Botswana has contravened is on the fundamental rights of workers on the freedom to associate and the right to organize. This includes their right to organize their administration and activities. The new TDA has banned workers from taking part in strike action in furtherance of their collective bargaining efforts, thus taking way a fundamental right. BFTU will continue to represent workers even at ILO level to ensure that the Botswana Government rescinds this draconian law. We are grateful to those who have worked with us and continue to do so especially our colleagues from Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and the support we have been getting from international organizations such as Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council (SATUCC), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the ILO’s Decent Work Team and other sister federations in the region. We look forward for this continued support and assistance even during the ILC in June 2017.
2017/18 Public Service Salaries Increments The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has observed the disturbing developments within the public service bargaining process with keen interest. We wish to air our opinion on these developments and propose what we think could assist in arresting the situation in a fair manner. It is our considered view that the decision by Government to increase public service salaries by 4% with effect from 1st April 2017 was improper, ill-advised and undermining of the collective bargaining process. Government has a duty to promote the collective bargaining process and such actions are geared to achieve the opposite. The excuse that the PSBC is not functional cannot be used by Government to justify its action. The results of this increment have been damning to trade unions to say the least. It has pitted unions sitting in PSBC against those outside the PSBC who do not have access to the negotiating table. This scenario serves only the interests of the Employer and none of the two groups of worker organizations. Government thus perpetuates dysfunctionality of the PSBC so that it cashes on it. This attitude by Government should be condemned in strongest terms. We wish to point out that Botswana has ratified Convention 151 - Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention 1978 (No. 151) of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Article 7 of the convention calls for measures “to encourage and promote the full development and utilisation of machinery for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment between the public authorities concerned and public employees' organisations, or of such other methods as will allow representatives of public employees to participate in the determination of these matters”. The behaviour by Government falls short in complying with this provision.
BFTU is deeply concerned by the lack of progress in the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC). The Continued standoff between Unions that are representing workers and the Employer (Government) on the one hand and the differences among the unions on the other had has rendered the PSBC non-functional and of no effect. There have been endless accusations and counter-accusations among the concerned parties as well as endless court cases that are not helping in getting the PSBC to what it was intended to do. While the parties may be taking turns to inflict blows on each other and scoring ‘political’ victories there is absolutely no progress made on the bargaining table. In fact it has been our observation that since its inception the parties to PSBC have spent more time in court than at the bargaining table. The result is that the main beneficiaries to the bargaining process have suffered while those entrusted with carrying out the bargaining spend time fighting to regain their egos. This situation should come to end and sanity must prevail. The importance of the PSBC to workers in this country cannot be overemphasized. This importance is not only limited to unions that sit in the PSBC and their members but to the entire public service and parastatals. Most of the parastatals await the outcome of public service salary reviews before they can consider reviewing their own. In fact even our private sector wage reviews are benchmarked with those of the public sector. The dysfunctionality of the PSBC therefore has an effect in almost the whole labour market. It is our considered view that the current impasse cannot be resolved through the courts. BFTU appreciates the role of the courts in assisting to resolve labour disputes, especially the Industrial Court (IC), but we are of the view that matters concerning collective bargaining are better dealt with by the parties themselves. Collective bargaining is a voluntary process and parties engaging in it must respect each other and believe that they are capable of resolving issues by themselves. Court directives or orders cannot produce agreements on the collective bargaining table but will only strain the already difficulties relations between the parties. It is our considered view that the Industrial Court judgement of 2016 by Hon Judge President Tebogo-Maruping was the correct one in resolving the difficulties surrounding the PSBC. The judgment had directed that the parties, i.e. the Government as the employer and all recognized unions, should meet under the mediation of the Commissioner of Labour to amend the PSBC constitution. The idea was that a reasonable threshold for admission into the PSBC should be arrived at. This would ensure that most of the Unions in the public service will be represented in the PSBC. The current stand-off between BOFEPUSU acting jointly group on the one hand and BOPEU and other smaller unions on the other would not exist had the parties complied with this judgement. Whereas we recognize the right of BOFEPUSU unions to have appealed this decision we have indicated then and still we are of the opinion that the appeal was ill-advised. As we all know the Court of Appeal ruled that only Manual Workers meet the criterion to be admitted into the PSBC and it can be so admitted with any other smaller unions that it agrees to go in with. This therefore meant the BOFEPUSU AJA is admitted and BOPEU and its group will have to wait for their application to be considered by the PSBC. This is the PSBC that since last year has not been able to deliver on its mandate. While the PSBC remains dysfunctional, other employees of Government who have no say in the PSBC business are continuously disadvantaged. Their organizations have a right to demand that this should not be the case as they are not to be blamed for the stand-off in the PSBC. In our view they cannot therefore be judged as working with Government. This situation will continue to be a headache as long as other worker organizations are left out of the PSBC. We want to urge the BOFEPUSU AJA and Government to revert to the table with other recognized unions to amend the PSBC constitution as the IC had directed them. The CoA judgment is not helpful to the parties. It only serves to divide the workers further and under the circumstances it is the employer that benefit from this impasse. Trade union leaders from both sides must swallow up their pride and take the initiative to resolve the stand-off for the sake of their members. As stated above this situation is not only affecting the public service employees alone but employees within a number of parastatals.
FIRST 2017 General Council Meeting A Triple Success The first 2017 General Council meeting of Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) was held in Mahalapye over the weekend. The General Council is a constitutionally sanctioned structure of the federation that has to meet at least twice a year, for reports, dialogue and so forth. Part-rule 11.1 of the BFTU constitution says the duty of the General Council is to, “Transact the business of the Federation between Triennial Congresses and shall coordinate the activities…” About fifty General Council members were in attendance. Members of the General Council are: The Executive Board, Chairpersons and General Secretaries of affiliated unions or their representatives, Chairperson and General Secretaries of Women’s Council and Regional Committees. This interpretation is per rule 10.4 to10.4.3 of the BFTU constitution. The meeting began on the 22nd of February 2017 which was a Thursday. That entire day was dedicated towards developing a strategy for organizing workers in vulnerable situation. The strategy is a five a year strategy which will be supported by the ILO, Pretoria Office. The development of the strategy was guided by an independent consultant engaged by the ILO for the project. The strategy seeks to target workers such as migrant workers, domestic workers, and farm workers. Despite the proceedings being somewhat technical the aim was achieved by the end of the day. Making the first day a success. The second day-Friday 23rd February 2017-was dedicated towards going through a draft constitution that BFTU seeks to adopt. The new constitution was studied through the guidance of a consultant, lawyer and former trade unionist and General Council member for Botswana Meat Industries Workers Union (BMIWU) Mr Daniel Pelompe. The draft constitution has been reviewed by an expert who made comments that were shared with the General Council. Many comments of the expert were that the constitution is progressive. The final and supreme structure of the federation which is the Delegates Congress will be presented with the constitution for adoption and thereafter the constitution will be implemented, if adopted. Just like the strategy, the draft constitution was adopted by the end of the day. The third and final day- Saturday 24th February 2017- was the day the Executive Board, particularly principal officers-which are the President, Secretary General and Treasurer-made gave reports for the period March 2016 to beginning of 2017. Two ladies were co-opted for the positions of Vice President of BFTU and Secretary for International Relations and Publicity, the positions were filled by Sarah Dibe and Idah Nkhumisang respectively. The third day was arguably a success also. During the General Council, the President of the federation cautioned General Councilors of the storm that lies on the course of workers. He gave examples of retrenchment that have become the order the day, the punitive labour laws that the government enacts with blatant disregard for advice provided by the federation. The president however urged workers never to tire, but to come together and gather strength from each other to fight the oppression. The Number of Women in Federation’s Board Rise to Almost Half Women have historically been at a disadvantage when in terms of filling of positions of power. However, BFTU has shown that it is ahead in reversing that trend. At the recent General Council of BFTU two powerful women rose to fill in two positions that had fallen vacant in the federation’s Executive Board. The positions are that of the Vice President-filled by Sarah Dibe-and that of Secretary for Publicity and International Relations- filled byIdah Nkhumisang. Mrs Dibe has been the Secretary for Women’s Committee prior to her ascendance to the Vice President position by cooption, whereas Ms Nkhumisang is President of the University of Botswana Non Academic Staff Union (UBNNASU). The total number of women in the Executive Board will now be five in a total of twelve Board members. This is a remarkable number looking at the fact that the Executive Board is drawn from the General Council which in terms of percentages has less than fifteen percent women at the moment. What is also impressive is that the positions were open for contest by any General Council member and were in no way reserved for women. The President of BOPEU Ms Masego Mogwera whose own ascendance to the presidency of BOPEU was symbolic as a woman, was present to give a word of encouragement to the coopted board members. She encouraged them to work hard and make their presence felt in the Executive Board. The Executive Board is now comprised of comrade(s): Bohithetswe Lentswe (President), Sarah Dibe (Vice President), Gadzani Mhotsha (Secretary General), Thusang Butale (Assistant Secretary General), Thatayaone Tauyakgale (Treasurer), Elliot Modise (Secretary for Organizing), Mpho Keatshabe (Secretary for Education and Research), Idah Nkhumisang (Secretary for Publicity and International Relations), Gaebepe Molaodi (Secretary for Youth and Children’s Issues) Goitseone Sebego (Chairperson for Women’s Committee). The position of Secretary for Women’s Council fell vacant with the ascendance of Mrs Dibe to the Vice Presidency. The position will be filled by a member of the Women’s Committee by or before the next Executive Board meeting. The Women’s Committee was given kudos at the General Council for their perseverance in the midst of challenges. The Chairperson for the Women’s Committee even pleaded for support during the upcoming events of the Women’s Committee which are a High Tea and a donation to Mahalapye women’s prison.
With the much anticipation of BFTU stakeholders over the website launch, we can now safely say BFTU website is live and running. This is a huge boost to BFTU because this website is another means in which BFTU can use to share information with its stakeholders and it puts BFTU in a platform where they can be seen by a greater number of people.