The recent announcement by the trade union federations, the Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) and Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatals Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) that they have agreed to work together during this year's International Labour Conference is a welcome development.
This is something worth celebrating by the Botswana workers who have been unfairly caught in between the fight of the two organisations.
For a very long time, the two have had a regrettable acrimony existing between them, something that rubbed off on activists of the two groups such that they had resorted to malice, propaganda, mudslinging, bad-mouthing and poignantly defying the international trade union core value, ‘solidarity’.
The differences between the leadership of the two federations had some workers losing hope altogether in trade unions. They were driven by big egos.
The two federations have at some point come to near-fistfights during the 2017 International Labour Conference as an argument over who should represent the workers erupted. This was a bad moment for the federations who workers had placed their hopes on for their future and work conditions. The problem with these federations are people with big egos the size of Kgale Hill who does not have regard for daily labour issues affecting ordinary workers. The Botswana workforce is too small to have fragmented federations fighting for the same thing. These federations should disband and form one big confederation.
The federations, as a matter of urgency needed to see to it that they bury the hatchet and initiate processes of working together, for the sake of the exploited working class.
However, the two announced last week that they have agreed to go
The federations have further agreed that the leader of the labour delegation shall share the speaking rights during the deliberations at the Committee of Application of Standards (CAS) with the alternate delegate who shall be from the Federation not leading the delegation.
This development will help them focus on the mandate of advancing workers agenda and advocating for the plight of the workers with equal force. There must be mutual decisions meant to address labour issues in the country, and fight the unfriendly policies crafted by the government.
We also hope that the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) will also make peace and work with BOFEPUSU because unionism has not been the same since it left. The difference between BOPEU and BOFEPUSU is pettiness. There is still a room for the two to work together.
Although this is long overdue, it is commendable and we hope it is meant to last forever.
“We know that freedom has many dimensions. It is the right of the man who tills the land to own the land; the right of the workers to join together to seek better conditions of labour; the right of businessmen to use ingenuity and foresight to produce and distribute without arbitrary interference in a truly competitive economy.” -
– Robert Kennedy