Kitchen staff at a busy Primi Piatti restaurant in Gaborone downed tools on Friday morning over alleged poor working conditions.
The visibly irate group said that they have no rights as workers, that they are not paid overtime and have only one day-off during the week.
The group of 19 kitchen workers told Monitor that after they started the boycott, demanding improved conditions of service, they have been replaced with Zimbabwean migrant employees.
"We do not know what this means and if we have been fired," said one. Another one said when they asked for a 15 percent increment they were told to tell government to pay the employer (restaurateur) who would, in turn, pay the salary increase. They also complained that they eat while standing and sometimes stay long after a shift has ended to offload stock from delivery trucks. "Sometimes we knock off at four in the morning. When we complain, we are always told that 'the door is open'," said another. They said some of their bosses even use derogatory words against them.
The employees have approached Botswana National Front (BNF) Member of Parliament (MP), Olebile Gaborone, over their grievances.
Asked whether they had also seen the Department of Labour, workers said they have not because there are still many issues relating to the restaurant that the department has to sort out.
As a result, the employees have decided to continue with the boycott until their grievances are resolved.
When contacted for comment, MP Gaborone said he had met with the employees and had communicated with their manager as well. He said that the last he heard from one of the employees was when they were to meet with management.
The manager told Monitor later in the day that everything was back to normal but would not comment further.