It is a known fact that the trade union movement played a huge role in opposition parties getting 52% of the popular vote in 2014.
Through the Botswana Federation of Private and Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), the trade unions, voice was amplified as its leadership actively de-campaigned the ruling party. Public servants have once again vowed to hurt the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the 2019 general elections.
BOFEPUSU president Johannes Tshukudu on Friday told a media briefing that following consultations with members about the government’s intentions to increase their salaries by 3%, their membership said they would punish the leadership through the ballot.
BOFEPUSU unions have joined forces in this quest with Botswana Public Employees Union and Trainers and Allied Workers Union.
“The membership told us that they were not surprised that the government offered 3% and is not willing to change position. Public servants have rejected the 3% salary hike offered by the employer; they have indicated that government would be awarding such an increase on her own. They said they will sort them out in 2019. They said the same after the 2011 strike and we saw opposition have more than 50% of the popular vote,” he said.
Tshukudu said they would finalise their plan for 2019 and share in due course. He expressed concern that reforms in the Electoral Act like introduction of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and single period registration could affect their plans.
Tshukudu lamented that labour relations with the employer are in the intensive care unit.
He said the decision to issue the 3% came after they met with Directorate of Public Service Management boss, Ruth Maphorisa in December who told them there was a Malaysian consultancy firm reviewing public service pay structure and performance which would inform the pay rise.
“We also engaged a local consultancy firm to carry out a similar study so we can compare at the end. While we were awaiting their report, Maphorisa told us that the work would not be done on time and told us that the most government can offer at the moment is 3%,” he said.
Tshukudu said they averaged an increment of 6.6% from their initial request of 12%.
Late last year, the BDP leadership arranged some meetings with the BOFEPUSU leadership and promised to improve relations between government and trade unions. The fruits of the meetings are yet to be seen.