1.0. Preamble Delegates to Congress would note that this report endeavours to give a holistic account of the state of the federation in all aspects and facets for the period under review. Delegates to Congress would note further that the period under review, which this report is being given 16th September 2023. It should be regrettably noted that this congress could have been held last year, around July of 2022, the period when the term of office of this committee elapsed. However, because the federation underwent some financial rough patches that have incapacitated it to hold an event of this magnitude, the congress could not be held at that time. Some affiliates had at that time, taken some decision to withhold their subscriptions to the federation. Consequent to that, the congress was delayed up to today 16th September 2023. It should be noted by delegates to congress that there has never been any intention whatsoever by the current committee to want to deliberately, purposefully and without just cause, extend its stay in office.
2.0. Administrative Issues
2.1. The Human Resource
Congress should note that the federation’s Human Capital status has not changed for the period under review. The federation offices remained manned by two (2) junior officers, being the Finance and Investment Officer and the Administrative Officer. The absence of an Executive Officer who could direct the affairs of the federation at a strategic level, hampers the delivery and progress of the federation. This, no doubt, is one of the areas that has remained a daunting task for the outgoing committee during the period under review. The seemingly non – action on this task was caused by the absence of financial stability of the federation which could not ascertain the sustainability of the remuneration packages of the federation structure. During the period under review, several unions halted their subscriptions to the federation for some times, and as such crippling the federation financially. Consequent to the predicament that the federation found itself in, it became incapacitated to first come with a structure, and secondly, to resource it. However, the latest development on this matter is that despite the difficult financial situation, the CEC took a decision to come up with more defined organizational structure of the federation. A consultancy has been commissioned to come up with an administrative organizational structure, the task which is still on – going , the product would then be presented to the CEC. Following the presentation of the structure to the CEC, depending on the financial affordability of the federation, the structure will then be populated, prioritizing the executive officer and an organizing officer as per the resolution of the federation CEC. This is an exercise that the in – coming Executive Committee would have to complete.
2.2. The Federation Facilities and Assets
Delegates to congress should note that the federation, owns 39% of the property where its headquarters is located at Kgale Mews. This is the only facility or asset that the federation partially owns. As Congress might be aware, BOFEPUSU house was jointly owned by UNIGEM and the federation at 61% and 39% shares respectively. However, the latest development on this matter is that the Manual Workers Union has bought the 61% shares of the UNIGEM, and the status is that the house is now jointly owned by the Manual Workers Union and the federation at the same time as per the share proportion stated above. As a result of this development, the Manual Workers Union has during the period under review indicated that they need to be paid rent commensurate with the percentage share that they own in the building. The federation and the Manual Workers Union have engaged on the matter, but the issue has not been concluded. This is a matter that the incoming CEC would have engage on to logically conclude it.
As will be reflected in the federation financial statements, a good number of unions are not subscribing to the federation as per the requirements of the constitution. While some unions, especially those that are still at their infancy, mainly those in the private sector, genuinely find it difficult to pay subscriptions, they are those unions that have wilfully halted subscriptions to the federation while they have the financial capacity. Some unions are in the habit of intermittently halting subscriptions without conveying the reasons for their stoppage. Affiliates are advised to always communicate whatever challenges they may have before withdrawing the subscriptions. They are some unions especially in the private sector that have explained their difficult financial situation to the federation and have requested for some waiver which were granted. Such waivers are constantly being reviewed by the CEC on periodic basis.
The Federation Policies & Programmes
It is worth reporting to congress that during the period under review, the federation CEC has been able to come up with two important documents that are critical in giving the federation some strategic focus being the federation Strategic Plan and the Workers’ Charter.
4.1. The federation Strategic Plan
The 5 – year federation Strategic Plan was adopted in 2019 and it runs up to next year 2024. The strategic plan highlights broad deliverable areas that are broken down into specific achievable objectives in the form of some annual development plans. The Strategic Plan guides the CEC to stay focused on the priority deliverable areas that the federation ought to achieve. This in our view is milestone achievement that has been attained during the period under review. The incoming committee would have to pursue the federation strategic plan to its final year, 2024.
4.2. The Workers’ Charter
It is worth reporting to congress that another milestone achievement during the period under review is the development and adoption of the federation workers’ charter. The Charter provides policy positions of the federation on various labour issues, national matters and some current topical emerging issues. The Charter helps the federation in having consistent positions on such matters, and to lobby stakeholders, like – mided organizations and the potential partners on issuers contained in the charter.
5.0. The Growth of the Federation and the Scope of Representation
Congress would note that when the current CEC took over the leadership of the federation, it only had membership of unions from the public sector. The CEC then, took a deliberate move to go into a massive recruitment drive of unions that organize in the private sector. That included assisting to resuscitate some of the unions that were long formed but have become dormant. This was done to ensure that the federation does not remain sectoral. This exercise was important because, for any federation to gain international recognition especially by the International Labour Organization (ILO), one of the main considerations is its representativeness. For a federation to be given due recognition by the ILO, it must be representative of the various sectors of the economy in country. The out – going CEC achieved a lot in this respect as seven (7) unions from the private sector, representing different sectors of the economy were recruited into the federation. This gained the federation a status of a labour centre that is recognized both domestically and internationally. This is the reason why BOFEPUSU now forms part of the tripartite delegation to the International Labour Conference every year. This is the reason why BOFEPUSU as a labour centre is able file reports of transgressions of international labour standards by government to the supervising structures of the International Labour Organisation. That is that is reason why, in 2018, BOFEPUSU was a lead federation in motivating the transgressions of Botswana as a country at the International Labour Conference Committee of Application of standards.
We are therefore elated to report to congress that the following unions that organise from the private sector are members of the federation and the table below shows the sectors that they represent.
UNION SECTOR RPRESENTED
BHCTTWU Hotel and Tourism sector
BCGWU Retail, Commercial, Hotel & Tourism sectors
BOBOCOGEWU Transport sector
UBASSU Parastatal Sector
BOCOWU Communications Sector
BOMAWU Media Sector
BRFWC Retail Sector (furniture)
The other members of the federation from the public sector are as follows.
6.0. Federation Structures & Mobilization
It is common knowledge to congress that the federation structures have become inactive and moribund. The CEC and the previous Governing Council had taken a decision that the structures should be revived. However, a plan that had been put in place got disturbed by the effects of COVID – 19 and obviously by the intermittent financial throttles. We appeal to this congress to encourage affiliate unions to urge their structures to assist in keeping the federation structures active. This is one area that the out – going leadership has experienced challenges in and would appeal to the in – coming leadership to give it due attention so that the federation could remain active a d driven by the structures.
7.0. Assistances to Affiliates
During the period under review the federation has received numerous requests for assistance by unions from the private sector. These requests for assistance ranged from capacity building to technical and legal assistance. The federation has done its best amid tight resources to accede to such requests. We have during the period under review recorded 21 cases that we have on behalf of affiliates, upon being called upon to assist, taken to the courts of laws to vindicate the rights of the workers and those of the trade unions themselves. This has been the role played the federation to democratize the labour space in pour country.
Bargaining in the Private Sector
The state of labour relations in private sector seems to have deteriorated with the advent of COVID – 19. We have observed mass retrenchments in some sectors of the economy during and post COVID under the pretext that companies are no longer profitable and that there is need for re – engineering to keep businesses afloat. The sectors that were mostly affected are the hotel and tourism industry and the media sector. We have seen companies by – passing the recognised trade unions at the workplace when engaging in the process of retrenchment. The federation has fought on behalf of the workers to protect their rights during these massive retrenchments. The federation in one such typical example supported a union organising within the Hotel and catering space to halt a retrenchment process that had been carried out at Grand Palm hotel for reason of by – passing a consultative process. The federation as well assisted an affiliate union organizing at Avani to reverse a similar process based on lack of consultation. The laws in Botswana especially the Employment Act does not protect enough the employees when it comes to retrenchments, the law is not explicit about how the process of consultation with employees / recognized trade union should be done.
In this respect, we also see situation where unions in the private sector have been denied recognition by employers using intimidation tactics to pressure employees to relinquish union membership so that union falls below the threshold required by the law. This situation is as well made worse by weak labour laws that fail to protect trade unions and their members at the workplace.
The absence of Industry Councils also makes it difficult for unions in the private sector to negotiate at least some minimum standard conditions of service in the different sectors of the economy. The absence of the industry councils is caused by the fact that the law makes the formation of such to be difficult owing to the high threshold that is specified.
9. Domestic Partnerships
Congress delegates would note that for the federation to thrive and for it to have a significant impact in protecting the rights of workers, their civil liberties and those of the downtrodden and the democratic credentials of the country, it needs to forge links with like – minded organizations for lobbying and advocacy. In advancing this principle, the federation leadership engaged with its counter – part, the BFTU, and ultimately signed a memorandum of agreement that defines and provides for parameters in areas that the two would cooperate or work together on. In the same breath, the federation has developed some rapport with other non – governmental organizations such as BOCONGO, DITSHWANELO, the UB Democracy Research Project and the Law Society of Botswana. We regard these collaborations to be quite important for the federation to be able to deliver on its broad mandate.
10. International Partnerships / Collaborations
As has been stated else in this report, partnerships and collaborations are quite paramount. During the period under review, the federation leadership made deliberate efforts to open links with international organizations and platforms. It is during this period that the BOFEPUSU applied and got successfully admitted as an affiliate of SATUCC. SATUCC is the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordinating Council which is a confederation of trade union federations of Southern Africa. It brings together under one umbrella, federations of Southern African countries. The SATUCC platform has benefitted the federation immensely in that it became a vehicle to access technical assistance from the International Labour Organization and other international partners. It is also worth reporting to congress that the federation has also applied for membership of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a world confederation of trade unions. It’s application and consideration for admittance by ITUC is on – going. This is one tasks that the incoming CEC should pursue to its logical end. In the same vein, the leadership of the federation has cultivated harmonious working relationships with other federations in Africa such as COSATU of South Africa, ZCTU of Zimbabwe, TUCNA of Namibia, ZCTU of Zambia, MCTU of Malawi. As stated elsewhere in this report, BOFEPUSU has during the period under review entrenched itself internationally by being given due recognition by the International Labour Organization. BOFEPUSU has as a result made significant impact in advancing the Botswana workers’ rights through the International Labour organization as centre that the ILO recognizes in the country. It is through the efforts of this out – going committee that such a fit has achieved. There is no doubt comrades that the workers of Botswana have benefited from this recognition. Flowing from the recognition of the federation the international labour institutions including the ILO, BOFEPUSU is participating in several national and international structures. Those structures include among others the following.
The International Labour Conference (BOFEPUSU alternates with BFTU) as head of labour delegates.
SATUC (a Regional Labour Secretariat)
SADC MELSP – Forum for SADC Ministers of Employment and Labour and Labour and Social Partners
11. Participation in Domestic Tripartite Structures
As has been alluded elsewhere in this report, when the current leadership took over, the federation was not recognized as a labour centre domestically. However, with constant and persistent engagements with the powers that be, government was forced to regard BOFEPUSU as a labour centre, and flowing from that recognition, BOFEPUSU now allowed to represent workers in the national tripartite structures. BOFEPUSU now enjoys the right to represent workers of Botswana in the following domestic tripartite platforms.
The Labour Advisory Board
The Minimum Wage Board
The Labour Law Review (Ad hoc)
1.1. The Decent Work Country Programme
12. The Labour Review Process
As reported at our various Governing Councils, following a joint reporting of the government of Botswana to the ILC by BOFEPUSU and BFTU owing to its non – compliance with the ratified conventions, the CAS of the ILC recommended that Botswana Labour Laws should be amended to align them with the ILO standards. This process commenced, a task team was commissioned, and a reference committee was also set up. The task team has since come up with a draft consolidated Employment and Labour Relations Act. The aim of the E&LRA was to consolidate the following labour laws; the Employment Act, the Trade Dispute Act, the Trade Unions & Employers’ Organization Act (TUEOA) and the Public Service Act. The process of reviewing the labour laws is nearing its tail end as it is now at stage where the tripartite is validating the final draft of the Employment and Labour Relations Act.
The Public Service Bargaining Council Resuscitation
The federation is taking very keen interest in the resuscitation of the Public Service Bargaining Council. Though this is a sectoral council, our strong view is that government as an employer and part of the state sets some tone and precedence of what should happen in a country in as far as labour relations are concerned and as such government should ensure that bargaining structures in government are up and running. We learn as a federation that a task committee that was set up to work on the constitution of the PSBC has completed its work and has handed the report to the reference team. The reference team has met and the process on the discussion is still on going.
2.0. The Decent Work Country Programme
The tripartite; being Labour represented by the 2 labour centres (BOFEPUSU, BFTU), Business Botswana and the State (represented by Ministry of Employment Labour Productivity & Skills Development) have met, discussed, and agreed on the second generation of the Decent Work Country Programme. The DWCP is sort of a framework of how issues of labour relations should be dealt with and the priority issues that need to be addressed. The status of the implementation of the second generation of the Decent Work Country Programme is that the implementation work plan is being discussed. The details of the DWCP would be discussed during the empowerment workshop.