The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) brings its solidarity message to the mighty Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and its delegates.
The theme is most appropriate in this challenging and changing period in labour relations in Botswana. The state of our education system is in gross shambles. So are the workers rights.
Organising and Empowering teachers is at the forefront of UDC programmes as we want to see a professionally organised and empowered workforce. UDC considers education as the most critical and important sector in Botswana.
Good quality education will fight unemployment, poverty, diseases, corruption, etc. UDC therefore strongly believes that quality education can drive the social, economic and political sectors of Botswana. Botswana’s socio-economic development relies heavily on good and quality education, which UDC is proposing to the professional soldiers of education, the BTU delegates. UDC wants to see a well organised and empowered BTU, together with her sister unions in education.
It is the duty of government to formulate laws and policies that promote teachers to be organised and empowered. Teachers can make or break the system. This is why UDC is concerned with teachers’ welfare and want to see an unconditional improvement of teachers’ working and living conditions. The current BDP government is fighting hard to disorganie and disempower education workers. They have adopted the dirty tricks of divide and rule tactics and are causing a lot of confusion and havoc within the labour movement. The Botswana government ratified 15 International Labour Organisation conventions and subsequently domesticated them. These are now found in the Trade Union and Employers Organisation act;
These include convention 98 on The Right to Organise and Collective; Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (Convention 87); Labour Relations (Public Service) convention 151 which guarantees the right of workers in public service to organise freely. These conventions and domestic labour laws are meant to promote labour relations in the workplace, and most importantly, to help teachers and other employees to organise freely without government interference.
Unfortunately, the BDP government has shown gross disrespect to these international conventions and domestic laws. The impending amendments to the Trade Disputes Act, Public Service Act, Botswana Examination Council Act are some clear examples of how the BDP government is bent on destroying teachers and other trade unions in this country.
The UDC has great respect for the teaching profession and other workers as it believes that these are the true creators of the national wealth. UDC will bring the dignity of teachers and other workers to their respectable levels.
UDC further encourages the workers to stand up and protect their rights to freedom of association and right to organise. Any Member of Parliament who stands in the way of teachers and other workers by trying to take away their collective bargaining rights should be blacklisted and not voted in 2019.
VIVA BTU VIVA!
*Hunyepa is the labour secretary for the Umbrella for Democratic Change