The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) proudly commemorates the 2019 Labour Day with workers under the local theme, A Demand for a Better Botswana. The day is commemorated amid endless retrenchments and poor working and living conditions. And amid these retrenchments, there have been unprecedented cases of gross corruption and mismanagement in government and public enterprises.
Companies have thrown thousands of employees into the streets, including the infamous BCL and Tati Nickel mines, courtesy of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led government. UDC wants to see both the public and private sector employees living in a better Botswana, through decent salaries and improved conditions of service.
The theme fits the current workplace scenario as a better Botswana can be attained through equitable distribution of national resources. The working and living conditions of workers in Botswana have been overwhelmingly getting worse by the day despite the rich national wealth created by the workers themselves. While the rich are getting richer, the poor, comprising of the workers, continue to submerge deeper into the dirty trenches of abject poverty, dehumanisation and helplessness.
This year’s commemorations coincide with the Botswana general elections and UDC is confident that its manifesto is proposing a better Botswana for the priceless workers.
UDC promises 100 000 decent jobs in the first 12 months after being voted into power. Currently unemployment statistics are at 17.7% while it is also reported that about 87000 graduates are roaming the street unemployed. The 100 000 jobs will help workers to maintain their families and generally improve their social and economic wellbeing. The UDC government also promises P3 000 minimum wage, better than the pittance, ranging from P800 to P1 600, they are currently getting. The old age pensioners will receive P1500 per month as opposed to the measly P400 they are getting now. These adjustments will surely go a long way in cushioning them from the social and economic hardships they have been subjected to for years now.
Instead of the degrading and dehumanising Ipelegeng, UDC will introduce a decent public works program where employees will be engaged in rural and urban areas for infrastructural development and at the same time acquire practical skills for self employment, with respectable salaries. Grants and loans will also be given to the middle class and middle age for voluntary exit so that they embark on farming and other productive economic activities, hence opening employment opportunities for the unemployed graduates, and simultaneously creating new jobs and promoting food sufficiency.
The UDC shall further legislate a national social security fund which will include a compulsory contributory pension fund, health and maternity insurance in the private sector and unemployment benefit for all.
All completing students will be able to survive after secondary education through self employment as UDC will provide a productive quality education system for job
UDC will further set up an effective, efficient and independent dispute resolution mechanism that will handle all matters of mediation and arbitration expeditiously and make a better Botswana. The public sector bargaining council should have been resuscitated in the first 12 months as well as establishing the works council for the private sector.
The House of Representatives is another UDC master stroke that trade unions, civil society, churches, chiefs, farmers, students, and other marginalised groups will have to take solace in. The house will provide a platform to help transform Botswana through their representative voice. No one will be left out.
The disciplined forces, mainly the military, police and prisons are guaranteed the right to organise and collective bargaining. The military and police will however have limited rights to strike but will enjoy the right to bargain on their general conditions of service, and not to be told what they are worth in the view of their employer as per the current skewed system.
The UDC heartily commends the BFTU and BOFEPUSU for commemorating the 2019 Labour Day under the same umbrella shade. The 2019 global Labour Day theme is “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement” which undoubtedly embraces the workers’ popular maxim – ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’. A united front will definitely lead to the social and economic advancement of the working force, heralding a better Botswana. We doff our hats to the federations’ leadership for this positive landmark stride.
It is also, on this day – Labour Day, that we once more, humbly call upon the workers and the nation at large, to vote UDC in the forthcoming general elections. The BDP has continuously failed to live to its promises and therefore their current manifesto is no different. The manifesto is actually patronising workers as it shouts out issues that the party has rejected in parliament.
It was not long ago that BDP parliamentarians rejected motions to bring BCL back to life, to adopt a minimum wage etc, yet the party’s manifesto has the audacity to claim good intentions. Worse, the BDP made teachers and several other cadres essential service cadres so that their bargaining rights are reduced, all this against the spirit of International Labour Organisation.
Viva workers Power Viva
Your in struggle,
UDC Labour Secretary