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ILO Pushes Gov’t To Harmonise Labour Laws

Government has been urged to speed up the labour law review exercise to ensure the country is in full conformity with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Conventions of Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.

The ILO Committee of Experts report of 2020 published last week indicates that despite making satisfactory progress in amending some of the labour laws in respect of the mentioned conventions, the country still lags behind in harmonising some of previous recommendations made by the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards (Conference Committee).

While the committee noted its satisfaction with the Trade Dispute (Amendment) Act (TDA) 2019, which makes the classification of the essential services, it observed amongst other things, that the TDA Act falls short of some of the recommendations of the Conference Committee.

“The committee notes that the government indicates that the committee’s comments and concerns have been considered in the ongoing labour legislation review process, which is being conducted with the assistance of the office. It also notes the government’s indication that on August 8, 2019, Parliament passed the TDA (Amendment) Act 2019. The committee observes, however, that while the said Act refers to issues related to the application of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), it does not address the questions raised by the committee in the present comment.”

It called on government to take necessary measures and engage in social dialogue with the social partners to ensure that the ongoing labour review process includes recommendations on the PSA Act.

The committee also said it was seeking an explanation from the government over the alleged dismissals

of workers because of industrial action following the adoption of the Emergency Powers Act of April 9, 2020, which included a clause that restricted workers and employers from taking part in industrial action.

According to the report, Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) made the allegations on October 1, 2020. Following observations and recommendations made by the Conference Committee in 2017 and 2018, government had embarked on a labour law review process through a tripartite Labour Law Review Committee (LLRC) to harmonise labour laws in the country.

The LLRC decided to focus the review on the Employment Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations (TUEO) Act, the Public Service Act of 2008 (PSA) and the Trade Disputes Act of 2016 (TDA).

Some of the legislations the Conference Committee recommended for amendment include Section 2 of the TDA, Section 2 of the TUEO Act, and Section 35 of the Prisons Act so as to ensure that prison staff are afforded all the guarantees provided under the Convention and adopt specific legislative provisions ensuring that all union committee members, including those of unregistered trade unions, enjoy an adequate protection against anti-union discrimination.

The government was also requested to take the necessary legislative measures so as to ensure that the limitation imposed in the PSA on the scope of collective bargaining for public sector workers not engaged in the administration of the state will fully comply with the convention.


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