BOFEPUSU must detach itself from politics

SHARE   |   Sunday, 15 March 2015   |   By Thabo Keaipha
Motshwarakgole Motshwarakgole

We have allowed the agenda of the workers to be hijacked by political parties. Our quest for the welfare of the workers has been compromised and is beholden to political parties. For too long we have allowed the BOFEPUSU leadership to get away with this crime and it is high time we remedy this abnormality.

We find that we must now fight for political neutrality first within ourselves then look further into prospects of progressive bargaining as workers and not as politicians.  What should determine the future is how we detach trade unionism from political parties.
From the moment we allowed the politicians platforms during the historic civil service strike as we were in despair that the government was not meaningfully engaging the workers, we got hijacked by the politicians. Without ignoring the government’s mistakes of the past in engaging the workers, we should not believe that these mistakes of the past should determine the future.

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We never intended for a BOFEPUSU that mobilises and bargains on the basis of political fanaticism, but rather on the basis of a spirit of inclusivity and an open and equal trade unionism that does not make those who are not political fanatics feel used for an agenda they will rather not prefer to be a part of.

We should not engage in rhetoric to score political points, but fight for an environment where politics does not take centre stage that belongs to the workers. BOFEPUSU must fight for the principle of workers’ welfare in a politically neutral space. Fighting from any political side dilutes the purpose of trade unionism. We must leave politics to politicians and those of our leaders who embark on politics must quit trade unionism leadership positions. We find that today, BOFEPUSU leadership does not take instructions from the workers anymore; the instructions are coming from politicians who attempt to even reward them with parliamentary seats.

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I don’t think we have ever as workers envisioned a BOFEPUSU with leaders within workers who seek political power. We should be motivated by a spirit of servant-hood that places workers at the forefront of our struggle and the servant-hood never involved using BOFEPUSU leadership positions to seek love and affection from politicians. This is not what BOFEPUSU had sought to fight for but unfortunately this is what the BOFEPUSU of today stands for.
We need trade union leadership that work tirelessly to see that the needs of workers are met and not spend more energies on attempting to topple a government. We must get rid of those within BOFEPUSU who prevents the advocacy and lobby of workers’ welfare and instead use the BOFEPUSU resources to advance political agendas. We need a BOFEPUSU that is best for the workers, and truly has their needs at heart. The BOFEPUSU leadership we find today designs and applies the rules to protect and grow political sides instead of protecting and growing the welfare of the workers.

Our anger at the employer is misdirected, our anger should be directed first amongst ourselves as workers for allowing trade unionism to deviate from the primary core. Where there is reason to be upset, let us hold those who are truly responsible to account and in the case of delayed negotiations it is BOFEPUSU leadership. BOFEPUSU has failed to bargain for us over several years now and we turn a blind eye to the union leadership’s failure to bargain and blame the employer. Bargaining is about making the other party see reason. The BOFEPUSU of today has over the years failed to make the government see reason for increment. BOFEPUSU is rather only good at politically aligning.

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This is not the BOFEPUSU that the workers had envisaged and dreamt of. We find that the BOFEPUSU leadership of today deliberately magnifies political divisions to serve political goals. Workers deserve better than this, workers deserve hope. We deserve trade unionism that is in it for the right reasons, and not trade union leaders who are in to get rich and advance political careers. Trade unions belong to the workers and we must take trade unionism back from those who have captured it for their own personal benefits. Trade unions must be governed by the workers.

We have been infiltrated and the workers must implement resistance to those seeking to use trade union platforms for political gains. At the moment it is more like the politicians are sitting at the table with the employer negotiating our salaries without our involvement. This might not be a popular view, but it is the only honest view.

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Thabo Keaipha
Moshupa



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