Public sector federation BOFEPUSU has vowed to continue exerting pressure on the employer to improve working conditions of public servants as well as adjusting their remuneration as priority areas in the New Year. The Secretary General of BOFEPUSU, Tobokani Rari, enumerated priority areas they will be targeting in 2017 and going forward. Most importantly, he said, they will continue protecting the Bargaining Principle and the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC). He said the federation would this year continue and intensify efforts of protecting the Public Service Bargaining Council as mandated by the December special congress. Resources and efforts would be channeled towards the court cases lodged in an attempt to protect the PSBC – one at the High Court on the scope of the PSBC and another at the Court of Appeal on the continuation of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 salary negotiations.
Intensify strengthening structures
In line with the resolutions of the December 2016 BOFEPUSU Special Congress, one of the priorities of the federation in the 2017 would be to build and strengthen the federation regional structures and branches. “There is no doubt that if the federation’s regional structures are strong and active, mobilisation of the general membership would be easy and as a result we would realise regional driven mass activities. We have to concede that during the past year, our regions have not been that active, and we have had information gaps between the general membership and the leadership. We look forward to strong federation structures, hence intensified mass actions in all our regions. The December 2016 Special Congress resolved that throughout 2017, the federation should lead mass demonstrations driven by the regional structures throughout the country,” he said.
Intensify membership education
The federation will intensify education for members this year. “There has been a telling gap of knowledge and understanding especially with the issues relating to the Public Service Bargaining Council. There would be coordinated visits and address to the general membership on issues of protecting the Public Service Bargaining Council and the bargaining principle as enshrined in ILO Convention 98. This would come against a backdrop of government consorted efforts to entice workers to forgo the bargaining council and the bargaining process by refusing to bargain so that workers would rather fall for unilateral increments that render the PSBC dysfunctional,” he said.
Organisation of the civic society
“There is no doubt that unions are the single most organised segment of the civic society, and as such they have the potential to organise and coordinate the rest of the civic society to take their rightful position and role of protecting the tenants of democracy. This is the reason why in South Africa for instance, the civic would become friends of the court in cases where litigation is done to protect the tenants of democracy. In this year 2017, BOFEPUSU intends to take centre in organizing symposiums for the civic society on its role,” Rari said.
Representation of workers in the tripartite
He said having been granted the right to represent workers in the tripartite structures in 2015, the federation has not yet enjoyed that right, and as a consequence, they have not made any much impact in this regard. “This includes inability to sit at important fora, among others; sitting at the Labour Advisory Board whereat labour laws are reviewed. This year 2017, the federation would vigorously fight to realise this right. This would include among others approaching the courts to asset our rights. Already there is such a case that we would be pursuing with the courts,” he said.
Having officially been included in an official delegation as part of the tripartite last year 2016, as advisors for labour, this year 2017, BOFEPUSU would be going there as labour delegates from Botswana. “We as a result, would this year put a considerable effort in detailing a report to the ILO general assembly and preparing a robust team that would put the views of labour across at the assembly. BOFEPUSU is made up of Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Union (BOSETU), Botswana Landboards Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU),” he said.