Workers Day Not Ordinary Holiday

| May 5, 2015

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSO) members have been urged to understand why May Day was introduced.

Speaking during the May Day commemoration on Friday, Mr Edward Tswaipe challenged unionising workers to use this day for the struggle against poor conditions of work or any form of exploitation, and not just limit themselves to simple celebrations.

Mr Tswaipe said workers should aocate for their liberation to better their conditions of work and demand friendly labour laws. He warned that if individuals did not understand the relevance of the day, socialisation would take its toll and individuals would be conditioned that the day is just like any other holiday.

He reminded the audience that the sad reality was that the struggle for better conditions of work and associated challenges that existed long ago still exists as eight hours of work did not apply to others, and that the employment act did not protect some labor force.

The unionist added that union members still failed to comply with labour laws like paying their employees at home well as well as failing to release them on May Day. The theme of the day ‘Striving for dignity and the worth of the working class in Botswana’ means physical conditions of work, the value of the worker expressed in compensation and the worker’s standing in the society or social status.

Therefore he said striving for dignity of the working class was about the above and the workers contribution to the society as part of class collective. He asserted that decent work was about dignity and warned unionists that outsourcing was a threat to unions as they lost their members through privatisation

Mr Tswaipe said that collective bargaining was very poor in the private sector as they were no unions in the private sector. He also condemned dual membership in unions saying it gave false statistics of unionised labour force.

“For instance, BOSETU and BTU, when you add their membership they will exceed the number of teachesr due to dual membership,” he stated.

Concerning the history of May Day, BOFEPUSO member, Mr Motelebane Motelebane said that in the 19th century during the rise of industrialisation, workers were exploited and treated like just mere tools, and worked excessive hours without rest and the working conditions were also bad.

Mr Motelebane said during that era employers were only concerned about maximizing profit and subsequently many employees lost their lives in mines due to harsh working conditions and long hours of work.

He reminded workers that Botswana started recognizing the day in 1975 after mine workers’ strike in Selibe Phikwe, but was only declared a paid public holiday in 1996 following some campaigns from 1978 by some labour force.

In her Motivational speech, BOSETU member, Ms Mosetsanagape Maithoko encouraged colleagues to stand for workers’ rights without fear or favour.

BOSETU Member Mr Joel Boitumelo said the struggle against exploitation was like a relay to upcoming generations and therefore the rewards may not come immediately.

He implored all workers to be involved in the collective struggle and not to be free riders.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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