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Labour movement must adopt social trade unionism academic

A university of Botswana academic says a modern, strong and progressive labour movement can mobilise workers in solidarity on socio-economic issues that affect them and play a pivotal role in the face of globalisation.

Dr Trywell Kalusopa said this when unpacking the theme ‘Creators of wealth agitating for stake in political economy’ during the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) over the weekend.

“The trade union movement remains a vehicle that can be used to effectively advance the workers cause in Botswana. It is the vanguard of the working class,” he said. Kalusopa however said, currently trade unionism continued to face challenges pertaining to delivering its mandate of being the vanguard of the workers’ struggle in Botswana.

“This is because, it is only a modern, strong and progressive labour movement that is able to mobilise workers in solidarity on socio-economic issues that affect them and play a pivotal role in the face of globalisation.”

“To achieve this it is key that there is ideological clarity ‘about where we are, what are the forces ranging against the strategic interest of the working class; who their allies are; and last but not least clarity about the international ideological warfare and their role in it,” he explained.

 In his paper, Kalusopa underscored the need for ideological clarity by recommending the adoption of social trade unionism. He said in this instance,

the labour movement would play a pivotal role in the country, region as well as direct efforts towards globalised trade unionism in the face of globalised capitalism.

Kalusopa reminded the BOFEPUSU delegates that the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) has affirmed this as a statement of principle on the adoption of social unionism that: “Our collective bargaining strength is based on our internal organisation and mobilisation, but it is also influenced by the more general climate around us: laws, policies, the economy and social attitudes.

“Furthermore our lives extend beyond collective bargaining and the workplace and we must concern ourselves with issues like housing, taxation, education, medical services, the environment and the international economy.  “Social trade unionism means unionism which is rooted in the workplace but understands the importance of participating in, and influencing, the general direction of society...”

He also quoted philosopher Franz Fanon who once said, ‘Each generation must find a mission, fulfill it or betray it.’ “As the labour movement in Botswana, in this generation, we should not betray the workers’ cause but nurture it for the good of posterity! We shall arise! Victory is certain!” he added.




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