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Unions urged to fight precarious work

FRANCISTOWN: The extent of precarious work phenomenon in the country is growing at a very alarming rate.

For this reason, trade unions must now amplify their voices in a bid to curb the growth of precarious jobs in the country, through advocating for proper employment policies and regulatory frameworks.

This is according to Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) President Thatayaone Kesebonye. In an interview with Mmegi on the sidelines of the union’s triennial congress early this week Kesebonye said that beginning the year 2020 the BLLAHWU and affiliates at BOFEPUSU would starting a relentless fight against the growth of precarious jobs in the country.

“At a federation (BOFEPUSU) level concerns about precarious jobs have been raised before. What is only needed is to multiply efforts to curb the trend from growing and achieving sustainable results (with reference to curbing the growth of precarious jobs). Already the growth in precarious jobs is about to reach a critical point,” he said.

When making his presidential address at the congress, Kesebonye said those offered precarious jobs are denied almost all permanent employee rights. He noted that they are subjected to unstable employment, lower wages and more dangerous working conditions. Kesebonye stated they also rarely receive social benefits and are often denied the right to join unions.

Precarious jobs are more prevalent in the country’s private sector. However, what deeply worries the BLLAHWU president is that the government has now joined a bandwagon of local rganisation that have a penchant of offering Batswana unstable jobs. Kesebonye noted that amongst others, the government was creating many temporary posts at an alarming. He explained that those in temporary posts are often denied most of the key employee benefits something that often stifles their personal and professional growth. 

“That is why as BLLAHWU we believe that it is now vital for unions to

join hands and start strongly advocating for regulations and policies with a specific focus on promoting employment structures that will be aimed at eliminating the growing numbers of precarious workers in the country,” said Kesebonye.

He emphasised that workers in the private sector should unionise in order to fight the phenomenon of precarious workers.

“Unions have effective ways to win secure employment. Collective bargaining is something that can help employees in the private sector to curtail the growth of precarious works in their sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kesebonye made it clear that it is grossly unfair for the government to downsize its workforce in a bid to reduce the wage bill. He was steadfast that civil servants should not be blamed for the wage bill, which is said to be out of control.

The government has announced that it will soon introduce measures to tighten spending in the wake of uncertainties regarding the country’s future revenue sources. One of the recommended measures is to reduce the number of public servants.

For a few years the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have been pushing Botswana to slash her work force indicating that the wage bill is unsustainably high for the country’s economy that has very limited and unpredictable revenue streams.

“The history of the country is littered with tales of corruption by the elite. Our view is that the government should come up with strong measures to fight corruption, which has proven to be very costly in recent years. This would ultimately mean that the government has enough money to effectively finance the wage bill and other development initiatives,” he said.

He also said that the wage bill could be slashed by reducing salaries as well as packages for politicians and government executives.




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