The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Government will pay public service employees their 3% and 4% arrears in 2019 if the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government fail to do so. All public sector employees are entitled to the 3% and 4% salary increment effected on April 2016 and April 2017 respectively as these are the implementation dates. The increments were budgeted for and therefore there is no excuse of lack of funds. Refusal by the BDP led government to pay the arrears is just a normal continuation of the regime to frustrate the workers and their federation. The current government has its priorities wrong as available funds are spent on unnecessary expenditures. UDC is concerned with the continued demoralisation, demotivation, brutality and ruthlessness meted on the public service employees by the BDP led government. The government has a very important role of promoting good labour relations in the country so that there is productivity, tranquillity and sustainable socio-economic development, leading to prosperity and job creation. It is clear that the government is on a ruthless warpath to completely destroy the progressive public service trade unions. In its reckless journey of revenge the government has trampled on both domestic and international laws with reckless abandon. The public service employees who are members of the legally registered organisations, affiliates of Botswana Federation of Public and Private Sector Union (BOFEPUSU), are being punished for associating with the legal activities of the federation.
Since President Ian Khama took over as state President in 2008, the public service unions and other public institutions fell under threat and some have since collapsed beyond redemption. His hatred for the trade unions is well documented. President Khama, his Cabinet and BDP are the main reason why the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) collapsed, throwing the entire institution into a crises. Ironically, it was Khama who signed the Public Service Act (PSA) into law in 2008. In 1998, Botswana ratified 15 International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, including the 8 CORE conventions. In 2004, the government then amended the domestic laws and aligned them with the ratified ILO conventions. The amended laws included the Trade Disputes Act (TDA) and the Trade Union and Employers’ Organisation Act (TUEOA). The amendments now allow the public service employees to register trade unions and federations, hence the existence of the current public service trade unions, including all affiliates of BOFEPUSU. The acts, including PSA, also allow employees to join trade unions; give them organisational rights, rights to organise and collective bargaining. However, on several occasions, the government has violated some of the following ratified conventions: Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise; Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining; Convention 151 on Labour Relations (Public Service). The BDP led government has gone on to further trample on the UN Declaration of Human Rights: Article 20 (Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association) and on Article 23 (Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions).
It is the same government that has constructively dismissed BOFEPUSU from the PSBC as the government made it practically impossible for the federation to sit and bargain in the council. There are several cases and examples that abundantly prove the harassment BOFEPUSU Acting Jointly Arrangement was subjected to by the government. Even outside the bargaining council the BDP led government was all out to ensure the collapse of BOFEPUSU. Under the circumstances, BOFEPUSU had little choice to stay in such a deadly relationship. It is undisputable that the BDP led government has since unleashed a reign of terror not only against public sector trade unions, but the media, churches, students, business community, judiciary, citizens and even factions within its own party. UDC therefore once more, appeals to the nation to change this regime in 2019 so that Batswana become a proud nation through social justice and good governance.
BNF Publicity Secretary and UDC Labour Secretary