Trade Union members live in debt

I find it imperative to share with fellow comrades this important information, there is statistic evidence which shows that Public Service Trade Unions have accumulated massive wealth within a very short of time,significant economic growth of unions is a well known fact and has even been confirmed by the leadership of various Trade Unions.

What is so worrying is that; union members are in serious debts and financially embrassed. But the reality is that, they are the Creators of both the political and union economic growth and are the ones contributing significantly to their unions’ s massive wealth, hence the need for them to agitate for a stake in their unions’ economy. 

The five major Public Sector Unions have venture into businesses and have formed investment companies which serve as a vehicle for their economic growth, the intended notion of forming Union Investment Companies (U.I.C) the world over is to provide a vehicle for socially responsible investment in various forms.

However, it appears that such purpose and noble initiative have some-how being diverted from by Trade Unions; they no longer pursue the noble investment strategy of improving the lively-hood of their members who are currently living in abject poverty and live like destitutes.

 My personal view is that  the Union Investment Companies have been turned into Cash cow for union officials and full time employees some of whom now alleged to be drawing a salary at D4 of P165, 300.00 per annum as full time shops-tewards, while some union General Secretary and Union Organisors are alleged to be earning a salary ranging between P45, 000.00 and P75, 000.00 per month


Union company 

 Majority of Public Sector Unions have formed Union-managed companies and joint investment companies as affiliates and have invested substantial in various businesses.

What is a worrisome is that some union companies are not managed by the unions that  have formed them, and members have little say when it comes to how union company financies should be managed and invested. Despite the fact that union members percieve themselves as Creators of Unions’ Wealth in their own right and that they should have a stake in union economy as share-holders, it seems that this is falling in deaf ears of those in authority.

It is an undeniable fact that, the working class in the public service (union members) are now being oppressed by their own leaders and union employees and person view is that Number One Enermy of Union Members are Union Officials.

There has been a visible decline in participation of union members in Trade Union activities across the spectrum and this may be attributed to the discontent, unhappiness of the working class, the interest and aspirations of union members are no longer the driving force of labour movements in Botswana and I am of the opinion that self interest, self enrichment and greediness are the major cause of all these evil.

Members’ s interests are no-longer put in the forefront as it was the case during our times in Botswana Civil Servants Association (BCSA) with the likes of comrades; Oganne Maroba, Boikanyo Paya, Mmapitso Monosi, Thobo Mongatane-Mapitse, Edward Mmoloki Ralotobana, Idah Baker, Newman Kahiya and the late Kedikilwe Kedikilwe (Trinity) who are the pioneers and some of the founding fathers and mothers of labour movements in the Public Service.


 The major problem with union- companies is that, Union officials and Ex-union officials in some instances are alleged and criticised for enriching themselves personally through various deals, some union members allege that; their properties have been transferred into the names of union officials without their consent and that some union moneys have been used to buy properties which were never transferred into unions’s name.

 Accumulative wealth of trade unions in a way play a major role in the union’s leadership resist to relinguish power voluntarily, there were instances in the past wherby some Ex-union leaders have created employment opportunities for themselves within the union companies as Chief Executive Officer when their time to live arrive.

Ordinary union members have litle say over investment decisions and they fear that in future they (members) may loose control over their own investment companies because some companies are not union-managed and do not account to the laid down union structures in their heirichical order.


BOPEU union-managed company

BOPEU has its own company; 100  % Union owned and managed Investment Company BABEREKI INVESTMENT PTY LTD and its subsidiary company BABEREKI INSURANCE BROKER PTY LTD under the leadership of its General Manager Edith T. Motshegare.

The two union companies provide loans to members and operate as Agent of Botswana Life Insurance limited on commission basis, the two companies which are inter-twin are wholly Independent from the union and focus mainly in business as their core function and mandate.

 Baberiki Investment Company accounts to its principal (the general membership) when it comes to prudent finacial management of its scares resources such as finance, human capital and other assets,the Company management is legally bond to produce financial statements and audited financial reports made by reputable auditors and present the same to various union forums.

If there is any person to be credited for the Economic growth of BOPEU and accumulative assets of Babereki Investment is its business acumen and strategic General Manager Mrs Motshegare. However, I must admit and point out that the union has not done enough as members may have expected in terms of ensuring that; there is equal distribution of wealth towards addressing members’ social needs, aspirations and interests, at varying levels and this is a worrisome to ordinary members as expressed in the social media.

 I am of the opinion that Union members across the spectrum must go soul searching for evolutionary, strategic and progressive leadership who can turn their dreams into reality and ensure that they have a generious stake in their unions’ economic growth. 


Capitalists acts

As Karl Marx has noted‘’ the new class of entreprenuers and financiers seen to be driven solely by the need to make profit and accumulate more capital and defines the workers value by the capitalists as the wage that is just sufficient to maintain the worker and his/her family unit.” My personal view in relation to Marx ideology is that Public Sector Unions are run by the Capitalist Class who are solely driven by their self need to generate income, accumulate more capita land massive wealth, there is no equitably distributed such wealth amongst its rightful creators being ordinary members

The working class does not have financial liberty and freedom in making informed decisions as to where they should get financial assistances; their individual budget year by year is prepared prior gto the announcement of salary adjustments by Trade Union officials who toilor made credit quarantee schemes with commercial banks and micro lending and thereby put members in serious pressure of getting into debts.

 It is an undeniable fact unions are paid Commissions and other kind donations as a token of appreciation for arranging such financial assistance schemes for members, Unions’ s investment strategy no longer serve as Support Net-Work public employees who subscribed to such movements with legitimate expectation that; they will benefit from their organisation’s economic growth and massive wealth generated through their hard labour.


Financial embrassment

The low income groups who are pontential union members are in serious debts and statistic evidence can show that public employees are in zero pay and this is why the home loan crediting rating has declined because their house-hold home take is non existence and poor employees are patiently waiting for the 6 percent  salary adjustment as announced by the bargaining council.

Most of low and midle income group do not own houses, they cannot afford to rent a suitable two bed roomed house, but the unions own  has properties in all most all the major cities and towns, Multi-million buildings in the CBD  and the union leaders(The Big Cats) owns residential houses in the suberbs, drive luxurious cars, use expensive cell-phones and eat in expensive hotels and resturants.

As long as union members remain quite and coward, Union leaders and Ex-unions officials will continue to enrich themselves, union members must rise and take control of their union by all peaceful means; gona lego didimala lego bua matshwenyego a bone mo sehatlhegong (face book).

In order to financially and economically empower members with good standing including those who have retired, unions must pay eligible members benefits in the form of cash or shares- related to profits of business, on annual basis and there is also need for the introduction of a Saving Related Share-Option Scheme under which a union-managed company economic growth’s share options is linked to savings made by the union member which will in return entitles a member to acquire the share at a future date.Unions must also venture into commercial farming to sustain the nation and union members, reared cattle and sell them to their members at an affordable price during bereavement and when they marry as a strategy of preserving Setswana culture yago nyala.

Lastly there is an urgent need for unions to come up with viable subsidy scheme to assist retired members during ploughing season,most of them  are farmers, by giving them loans at an affordable interest rate and payable after harvesting.

Union members must understand that; profit generated by their respective unions rightfully belongs to them and are the ones who rightfully own Trade unions.  There is no how an organization can be rich, and while its Directors and shareholders are financially embarrassed and live in abject poverty (a dikhumo di kgaoganngweng kago lekana bakaulengwe).

I therefore call for equitably distribution of union wealth by those in the leadership and they must avail to ordinary members’ assets inventory for regular inspection. 


Oaitse Diane Patle

Gaborone-based Unionist

PS: The views and comments expressed here are personal and are not that of any union and/or its affiliated federation

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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