FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) executive will next week Wednesday meet the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) leadership in a bid to cultivate a working relationship with the latter.

The meeting was confirmed by BOFEPUSU secretary general, Tobokani Rari to Mmegi.  At its governing council last week, BOFEPUSU resolved that it should start cultivating and nurturing relations with BFTU in order to address the agenda of workers and subsequently influence public policy in the country.

As part of implementing the resolution, Rari said that this week BOFEPUSU wrote a formal letter to BFTU requesting a meeting that seeks to start collaboration talks on various labour matters with the latter.

He highlighted that the purpose of the meeting will be to put together efforts in production of a report for this year’s International Labour Conference and to discuss other general aspects of the ILC meeting as well as the 2019 May Day commemoration. The 108th session of the ILC will take place in Geneva from June 10-21, 2019.

“We recently cooperated with Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) during salary negotiations and we are still working with them on attempts to revive the bargaining council,” Rari said Wednesday.

“Working with the two unions was cordial and very beneficial, which is what motivated us to approach BFTU. We believe that trade union movements should work together to advance the interests of the workers.”  BOPEU is an affiliate of BFTU. At its governing council, BOFEPUSU also resolved that it will push for the establishment of a confederation between the two federations.

“The two federations will remain as loose entities but a confederation will offer a formal platform which its primary mission will be the promotion and defence of workers’ rights as well as their interests,” he said.

BFTU secretary general, Thusang Butale also confirmed the meeting Wednesday.  “We are ready to work with BOFEPUSU to protect and advance the interests of the working class.

The first step is to have a meeting then we will take it from there. There is no time to deal with our egos,” he said.

Butale added that the two trade unions might even work on producing a single manifesto that will guide workers and other electorates for the 2019 general elections. That is provided their collaboration talks bear fruits.

The two trade unions also recently resolved to come up with manifestos that would be used to inform, guide and influence workers as well as general electorates in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

The manifesto is also meant to further lobby relevant local political organisations on workers agenda and national matters.

BFTU has said that it will release its manifesto in May this year. Rari said that BOFEPUSU’s manifesto would be released around June.

In the past, the two federations have tussled over the status to represent Botswana workers at the ILC and were involved in near-fist fights over a place on the high table during the same conference in Geneva, Switzerland last year. However, of late they have appeared to be warming up towards each other.

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