Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is dismayed at recent pronouncements by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng to the effect that government is halting the working –from- home arrangement in the public service on the basis that some officers are abusing the provision.

BFTU as such, would like to respond to the Minister’s statement thus:

  1. We find it gravely disturbing that in the first place the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force has not been consulted on the decision to dispose of the dispensation in spite of government having introduced the arrangement on the Task Force recommendation.
  2. In the absence of such consultation it boggles the mind to try and figure out the rationale for such an abrupt decision given that it was recommended in the context of a scientific and well thought out measures aimed at controlling the spread of covid-19.
  3. The decision is viewed as potentially counterproductive as government has not by far indicated what measures it has put in place to mitigate the concerns that led to the recommendation and ultimately steps taken to reduce congestion in the workplace.
  4. Moreover, there is no indication, nor even a pretence that all the employees who have been working from home would be returning to a safe working environment as it is common knowledge that vaccination currently remains a challenge for the entire population. Suspending or halting the working from home or shifting arrangements for whatever reason will certainly defeat the cause or initial intention of those mitigation measures.
  1. BFTU is further worried by the fact that it has been a long standing practice that the Private Sector has always emulated government in many respects, neither do they have in place anything like a robust system to protect workers from the impact of covid-19. In other words, the present direction taken by government is dangerously misleading as it provides an inappropriate model for the private sector.
  2. Contrary to the notion of inclusiveness which government professes, BFTU and other stakeholders who are represented in the Task Force have not been accorded the courtesy of appreciating government’s newfound approach to dealing with the pandemic as opposed to the science based measures recommended by the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force.
  3. Against the backdrop of the aforesaid, BFTU would like to urge Minister Morwaeng to carefully reconsider the ramifications of his recent stipulations regarding the working from home and shifting, and to rise above emotions and short term considerations.
  4. The challenge presented by covid-19 is mammoth enough to be dealt unilateral interventions even at the expense of existing and otherwise potentially inclusive platforms.

Thusang Butale (Mr)