Mmegi Online :: ILO blacklists Botswana for labour violations
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Last Updated
Thursday 17 August 2017, 11:24 am.
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ILO blacklists Botswana for labour violations

It is disturbing though not surprising to receive reports that Botswana has been blacklisted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as one of the worst labour criminals. This is due to its poor compliance of the ILO labour standards as reported at the current Geneva June 106th session by the Committee of Experts.
By Correspondent Fri 09 Jun 2017, 16:01 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: ILO blacklists Botswana for labour violations








This blemishes Botswana’s past known good records and ratings in good governance and democracy. Good governance includes rule of law, consultation, transparency, accountability, etc. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government has violated most of these values and therefore it is not surprising that it has been hauled over to account. Botswana is now among the rogue states that does not respect labour laws. This has a chilling effect of scaring potential investors and tourists, hence affecting job creation opportunities and socio-economic development of the country. This does not paint Botswana’s image well before the international community. It is embarrassing to note that Botswana violates these international laws while it has ratified all the violated conventions, including the core fundamental ILO standards. Domestically, the BDP led government has violated and or intends to amend the Public Service Act (PSA), Botswana Examinations Council (BEC), Trade Disputes Act (TDA) and they all flow from the ratified ILO conventions.

The BDP government has violated some of the following ratified conventions: Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise; Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining; Convention 151 on Labour Relations (Public Service). The BDP led government has gone on to further trample on the UN Declaration of Human Rights: Article 20 (Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association) and Article 23 (Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions). Ironically, Botswana is a member of the United Nations Organisation and seats in the governing body of its agency, ILO.

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has for several years advised the BDP led government to improve its relations with the workers. The BNF is clear in its labour policies regarding workers in Botswana. The BNF 1999 Manifesto states: “To ensure that “essential services” are not disrupted by

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industrial action, a tripartite committee (consisting of representatives of labour, employers and government) shall be set up which would advise government on the definition of essential services and procedures for a strike in such areas.

This contrasts sharply with the BDP government where the minister responsible for labour unilaterally designates services as essential”, page 18. The BNF manifesto continues...“The BNF recognises that workers are creators of our nation’s wealth and as such, the BNF recognises not only freedom to work, but most importantly the right to work and the right to industrial action as well as collective bargaining. The BNF government shall review all the labour laws so as to align them with ILO standards and to harmonise them with our social democratic programme”. 

The BNF Pamphlet number 1 also reads: “The BNF government shall make fundamental laws to protect workers and to give them maximum safety and security in their work. The workers organised as trade unions shall be encouraged to initiate or suggest legislation which protects their interests and maintain optimum conditions of services and to ensure good living wages...

The workers shall be represented in House of Representatives i.e. house with legislative powers to make labour laws and to amend them according to their interests” page 48. We call upon Batswana to support BOFEPUSU initiatives of taking this matter up with the ILO. BNF respect the rule of law and institutions that promotes social dialogue, consultations and engagements.

The BDP led government has failed dismally to uphold all these and is in bitter battles not only with the workers but the judiciary, media, citizens, foreigners, business community, etc. An Umbrella for Democratic Change led government in 2019 is the only alternative to restore order and peace in Botswana.

*Justin Hunyepa is BNF publicity secretary and UDC labour secretary

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