Mmegi Online :: Mabeo’s arguments not convincing
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Thursday 14 December 2017, 18:15 pm.
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Mabeo’s arguments not convincing

Somewhere in this edition we carry a story on the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development Tshenolo Mabeo’s statement to the International Labour Organization (ILO) this week.
By Mmegi Editor Fri 16 Jun 2017, 17:08 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Mabeo’s arguments not convincing








He appeared before the Committee on Application of Conventions and Recommendations after trade unions lodged a complaint with the committee on the government’s treatment of workers in Botswana. In particular, the complaint focused on ±the recent amendment of the Trade Disputes Act to lump almost every civil servant as essential. In essence, his argument is that circumstances prevailing in Botswana are unique and therefore the country should be exempted from complying with some of the ILO conventions on the rights of workers.

The list includes diamond sorters, veterinary services, government broadcasting services, gardeners and security guards. In view of some of the cadres included in the list of essential workers, we beg to differ with the minister and implore the government to seriously consider reviewing the list if the country is to be considered not an ‘axis of evil’ on workers rights. For example, how does an absent landscaper put lives of other people or clients in danger? There is no dispute that every employee adds value to the organisation they are working for, but it is naive for the minister to think that nobody will see when he declares all public servants essential and hiding behind sugar-coated language. The amended Act has clearly made it impossible for civil servants to demand better working conditions because the minister thinks that Botswana is a special case that should not allow

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workers to withdraw their labour. Perhaps, under the government of President Ian Khama, Botswana should not comply with other conventions such as the United Nations Charter on Human Rights or convention on Free and Fair Elections because it is a desert country? Or that child labour should be allowed because of ‘socio-economic circumstances prevailing in the country?’ A good example is the recent embarrassing withdrawal of an absurd Presidential Directive titled ‘…Self inflicted injuries…’ which sought to discriminate against people who got injured while under the influence of alcohol not to be assisted in government health facilities. There is no doubt that the government’s intention in declaring all civil servants essential was intended to make it impossible for them to bargain for better working conditions and ultimately withdraw their labour when negotiations fail to bear fruit. We live in a global village that is interconnected and that exchanges a lot of things, ideas, and information and we cannot claim that we are a special case that should not comply with conventions we signed for. Workers are the engine of this country’s economy and they deserve unconditional respect as it is the case in other democracies. Mabeo and co. should review the list of essential services urgently or be prepared to pay remuneration commensurate with the cadre.

Today’s thought

“All wealth is the product of labour “

– John Locke

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Editorial
Fri 16 Jun 2017, 17:08 pm
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