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Super-rich unions should introspect

Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) on Wednesday agreed to kiss and make up by collaborating to commemorate the 2019 May Day together in Francistown.

This is commendable considering the long history of animosity between these two federations. At the centre of their disagreement was pure pettiness and self-centredness not to forget greediness amongst some of the union leaders.

The theme for this May Day, also popularly known as Workers Day, was “Demand for a better Botswana”. We cannot help to agree with the theme that aptly captures the present situation in government and unions.

The two federations also agreed that it is needless to say it is corruption and poor governance that ate at the centre of Botswana’s current political crisis. They also said it must be remembered that public office holders are at the centre of the process of national governance and distribution of national resources. It is therefore important that trade unions take a deliberate effort to ensure that the interests of workers will be addressed and are safeguarded by those who require their votes.

Who really can differ with that? Though we have corruption in all its shapes, we hold the view that all the super-rich unions should seriously introspect and see if they are still serving the mandate of unionism.

It is common cause that unionism in Botswana has been captured by capitalism. Only a fool would deny that majority of the members of these so-called labour movements are cash-strapped while their unions are getting richer and richer by the day. More often there is no accountability and governance within some of these unions.

The every day bickering within some of

the unions is caused by corruption. Some union leaders treat these formations as their personal fiefdoms and they hate everyone who demands accountability. Hence purging is the order of the day within the labour organisations. These leaders who are larger than life cannot imagine a life outside the union. The union leadership is their route to wealth and power. They exploit the positions they hold to amass riches of this world while the loyal contributors to that wealth are wallowing in poverty.

Four years ago this publication reported that with the employer unable to offer better wage reviews, indications were that more civil servants battling heavy indebtedness were increasingly dissecting their own unions for answers. We wrote that zero net pay – a situation where a salaried individual earns nothing due to credit commitments – is sweeping through a public service struggling with historic below-inflation wage reviews. On a monthly basis, several repayments to the unions weigh down members, excluding subscriptions and the institutions once meant for their upliftment are now the millstone around their necks.

When the union leaders talk about corruption and poor governance, they must first think about the masses of loyal subscribers who do not get value for their money. Charity begins at home. It is time these super-rich class unions equitably distribute the wealth from their investments to their members, that is basic socialism.

Today's Thought

"Unions are about the collective leverage, the power of numbers versus the power of capital"

- Kevin O'Leary




The question of mothertoungue

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