Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has announced that it supports the controversial Trade Disputes Bill which was recently withdrawn by the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu after Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) lodged a case against the minister at the High Court. Addressing members of the media during their monthly briefings, BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said that the party supports the bill in its entirety, including the classification of the teaching cadre as an essential service. “An issue that the BDP caucus has discussed and which is informed by a resolution of the BDP National Council for the teaching cadre to be removed from the Public Service Act,” he said, adding that they trust that it will come to fruition. The bill is currently being debated in parliament and Members of the opposition has taken a resolution not to support it. BOFEPUSU has rallied on MPs to oppose the bill as its intention is to suppress the rights of the working class.
In a rare show of unity the warring workers federation BOFEPUSU and Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) released a joint statement last year condemning the bill. “This Joint Statement by the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) is our joint resolve as representatives of workers in Botswana regarding the Trade Disputes Bill 2015. In a nutshell we declare that we are opposed to the un-procedural enactment of the Trade Dispute Bill, 2015 and substantively opposed to some sections of the Bill, mainly Sections 46 and 47 on essential services,” reads the statement.
Section 46 of the bill stipulated cadres of employees that have been designated essential services which included among others; air traffic control services, Vaccine a laboratory services, Bank of Botswana, Diamond sorting, cutting and selling services, electricity services, fire services, health services, water services veterinary services, teaching services, operational and maintenance services of railways, government broadcasting services, immigration and customs services and services necessary for the operations of the forgoing services. In their defence the two federations argue that International Labour Organisation define essential service workers as those cadres of employees who when they have not provided service, they will be loss of life or danger to the community.