BOPEU acquires authority from its membership

Cde Motsamai
Cde Motsamai

Despite the criticism of doubting Thomases during May Day commemorations, BOPEU remains a focused and strategic labour movement in terms of putting of its members’ interest in the fore front and in ensuring that the terms and conditions of employment of the working class are improved.

At its 72nd Annual General Convention last year in Palapye, the union membership gave BOPEU leadership a green light to interact with the State President and government officials, discuss and socially dialogue on issues of mutual interest and common problems.

Notwithstanding criticisms, BOPEU President Cde Motsamai has on many occasions managed to inform the State President about the challenges faced by the working class and has even informed him, that the union is confident that, Botswana’s economy can afford a worthy and decent Public Service Increase without much adverse on budget variables.

The union President has also managed to inform the State President about issues that affect public employees such as; high cost of living, undue delays in implementing a decision on housing allowance for public employees and lack of effective Attraction and Retention policy.



BOPEU does not require any specific mandate and/or authority from any union including BOFEPUSU, each time it decides to act on matters that affect the wellbeing and welfare of its members. Trade unions acquire authority over their members by virtue of their voluntary submission to the union’s constitution.

It is only BOPEU members and not otherwise who can other the National Executive Committee of the union to desist from interacting with government of the day on matters that affect their terms and conditions of employment.

The management of unions is vested in the NEC, which comprises amongst others the President who has administrative prerogative and I have to state in clear terms that; one of the primary functions of BOPEU National Executive Committee is to ensure that the policies and resolutions of the union are implemented as directed.

Every union is entitled to determine its own constitution and rules, its destiny, plan strategically and conduct its lawful activities, which include engaging government in social dialogue. 

BOPEU is a union of choice and a recognised general union in the entire Public service which has even signed recognition agreement with the employer which receive statutory recognition for the two parties (Government and BOPEU) to engage each other on matters that affects the terms and conditions of employment.



Many workers across the spectrum join BOPEU as a union of choice, a union that has the capacity to assist employees and as a union which is non political intimidating and as comrade Andrew Motsamai has already confirmed to the nation through various media, “BOPEU remains apolitical’’ and this is an undeniable fact.

The challenge for BOPEU in 2015 and beyond is to unity the workers, formulate its strategic goals which will in the end satisfy atleast the majority of its members needs and aspirations, which is improved terms and conditions of employment.



In his official opening speech, the State President said he wants to engage with Batswana and be able to appreciate issues that his government could address and has even stated that; the interaction is a further Iilustration of his commitment to continuous dialogue and engage with Public Service Employees and has assured BOPEU membership that despite the limited resources and challenges Batswana faces as a nation, his government is more than committed to BOPEU and to all other public sector unions, in finding ways and means to improve the terms and conditions of employees in the public sector.

The continued climate of hostility and constant confrontation of public sector unions with government is worrisome and is a clear indication of unpreparedness of self seeking union leaders who have divorced their core mandate and now attacking journalists, the same workers they claim to be representing.



 BOPEU has taken its legitimate place and lead as a sole general union and mouthpiece of the entire working class, and this is why we are advocating for unity amongst the workers. Unionism is a new phenomenon in the Public Service, hence the need for union members and the leadership, to understand it properly and how labour relations function. Government is a full partner in employment and is in her own right, the largest employer who administers a vast Public Sector. Although the interests of employers and that of the unions are oppositional, the climate of hostility and confrontation between parties will not help to improve the conditions of the working class which is core mandate. The interaction of BOPEU leadership and the State President in 2015 and beyond is purely based on the concept of the Tripartite Cooperation in which the State, Trade Unions and Employer Organization (BOCCIM) are equal partners.  There is no dispute of fact that Trade Unionism remains an indespensable Institution for the protection of workers’ right and advocacy for improved conditions of service, but the strength of unions can only be enhance by internal cohesion and unity amongst public sector unions and government.

The views and comments expressed here are not of any union and/or its affiliate federation


*Patle is a Gaborone based union activist, Contact; E-mail: [email protected]

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