Unity Enhances Role of Unions – PS

| May 4, 2015

Permanent secretary in Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, Ms Pearl Matome, has implored trade unions to speak in one voice on issues that affect employees.

Speaking at May Day commemoration in Francistown on Friday (May 1), Ms Matome said unionism was about numbers, hence the need for union leadership to speak in one voice.

Ms Matome said the leadership of trade unions should look after the welfare and interests of the members before their personal interests and should not be involved in politics.

She warned that the leadership’s involvement in politics had potential of dividing the membership as some members’ integrity would be insulted and “confusion will descend on the members not knowing whether they have come to a freedom square or a workers’ forum.”

Ms Matome said politicising trade unions could lead to them losing their focus, and she encouraged those who want to be involved in politics to resign from the public service.

She noted that as per the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards, the government of Botswana appreciated that the relationship between it and the labour movements should be in a tripartite structure.

She implored federations, as mother bodies, to be exemplary in complying with the law and constitutions especially on submission of annual returns, holding annual general meetings and elective congresses.

Ms Matome noted that her ministry’s audit indicated that there were 61 registered trade unions registered, two trade union federations and one employer organisation.

She said the same audit revealed that 36 trade unions, the two union federations and the one employer federation were complying with the submission of annual returns while 25 trade unions were not complying and five were cancelled for non-existence.

Ms Matome said the audit further indicated that there were serious signs of financial mismanagement in various quarters which showed that public assets were in great jeopardy.

She called on union leaders to be trustworthy and continue to educate their membership on work ethic. Ms Matome said the global competitiveness index report ranked Botswana badly in market efficiency and employee effectiveness. “This reflects badly on the country and the unions and the individual worker and we must constantly remember that Vision 2016 that we committed ourselves to a prosperous, productive and innovative nation and therefore each one of us should make a deliberate effort in improving the rankings,” she said.

BOFEPUSU president, Mr Johannes Tshukudu said the dignity of the workers in Botswana is at stake because the work environment is not promoting the same dignity that ought to be given to workers who are the producers of the country’s wealth and democracy that the country is known of internationally.

He said when trade unions call for the improvement of conditions of work and better salaries “the employer and government use all their muscle power to silence them by labeling them as unpatriotic, inconsiderate and self-seeking disregarding other quarters of the society.”

Mr Tshukudu said the employer of public officers “through government state machinery influences the general public to think and believe that public servants are self-seeking people who always care for themselves only by making unnecessary demands forgetting that they are not the only Batswana that have to be serviced and cared for by the state.”

Francistown BOFEPUSU regional chairperson, Mr Thatayamodimo Xhabue expressed his dismay on the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, adding that there was need for all African governments to create jobs that would cater for all.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Mayor for Francistown, Ms Sylvia Muzila commended the unions for choosing to have the national commemorations in the second city. She said the arrangement was befitting because the first union in the country, called African Employees Union was formed in Francistown in 1948.

The mayor implored the workers to use the May Day not only to celebrate but also reflect on their achievements and challenges. She commended Botswana workers for always aocating for their rights in a harmonious manner unlike in other countries where innocent blood is shed.

The theme for this year’s commemorations was Striving for the dignity and worth of the working class in Botswana.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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