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The cry of workers: Exploitation

To the streets: The ‘Mother of all Strikes’ in 2011 briefly ignited confidence in the labour movement PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Life is hard enough without workplaces adding to it.

The first group of people that should be treated with care in any company no matter how big it is are the employees. Why? Because employees take care of customers and customers bring money.

In other words, employees are the backbones of companies. The employees are the company although many people would argue that the customers are the company. Most companies/organisations have now made it a norm or should we say a tradition because the traditon goes on for generations and generations.

Most companies have no respect toward their employees and this has been going on for years and has become normal. Most of these companies make millions yet they still underpay workers. Employees are sometimes expected to come to work at around 7.30am and knock off at 4am. They spend the rest of the day slaving away making money for these companies, but these same companies cannot show a single ounce of appreciation. It is heart-breaking that most people working for some companies in Botswana are inhumanely treated.

Companies should introspect and ask themselves that if the tables were turned around, would they like the way things are going, being exhausted and not being paid? Some companies don’t even do the mere basics. They fail to provide their employees with proper work gear and they demand that workers buy these at their own expense with the peanuts they pay them.

Most companies do not even organise transport for their employees, but they expect them to knock off at around 4am. Most of these companies when they really want to show that they do not care about their workers, will have them working overtime and not give them a penny for it. When workers complain, they are shown the door.

If you want to see that some companies are cruel, take one restaurant in Botswana. This restaurant increased salaries for managers and even provided them with their own uniform. The lower staff, meanwhile, sweat for the same restaurant but actually had their salaries cut  from P1,700 to P425.84. The hardest workers are undermined and unfairly treated. In addition to this, the restaurant laid off some of its workers saying it had no money.

Is this the world we are going to continue

to live in where our brothers, sisters, cousins, and mothers bend their backs for companies that cannot even acknowledge their efforts.

“We work in an unsafe environment mme gatwe the staff in the kitchen ba ithekele uniform and safety boots,” one worker there told this writer.

“Ebile I remember a time the GM a re if they buy us safety boots and clothes they are going to be getting monthly deductions from our peanuts salaries until purchase payment is made in a period of three months.

“Akanya hela ka P1,700 wame ka go sala ka eng? We declined the uniform saying we would rather get hurt than part with those little peanuts.

“We are also not paid overtime. The clause exists in our contracts but it’s not paid gatwe e authorisiwa hela ke GM and no one gets it.

“Re thola re tswa mo shopong hela ka bo 4am re clean shop.

“Mind you the meter will be running but gaba ira di calculation they throw away our extra hours gotwe the GM and director didn’t approve them.

“Ebile gape on paid holiday we are forced to take day offs re sa di batle, re batla extra pay.”

Most companies mistreat workers because they know they have nowhere to go. They do this because they know that it is hard to make a living in Botswana. They take advantage of the situation. They abuse their power and they abuse their employees. Workers are just expected to take everything as it is. It is important that workers know the labour laws and their rights in Botswana. They should not sit around and be idle when they are being treated like animals.

They should not allow their companies to manipulate and use them. Most of the time workers keep quiet about their unsafe work conditions because they are afraid of being fired but they do not understand that keeping quiet is what makes these companies think they can treat them badly. If you are being mistreated at your place of work, stand up and make some noise.


*Tshegetsang Tebelelo is a final year student at the University of Botswana pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Counselling. She is a published author and is passionate about writing

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