Lobbyist tells Khama to stop repressing unions By MTOKOZISI DUBE in Gaborone | Thursday, April 26 2012 at 14:41
Botswana faces international censure with the Public Service International (PSI) having written yet another letter to President Ian Khama recently warning his government to stop suppressing public sector unions.
The latest memo, written by PSI general secretary Peter Waldorff, is dated April 16 and warns Khama’s government that its attitude towards workers has worsened since their last communication last year.
“Despite several meetings between PSI and government officials and despite intervention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the Botswana government has intensified actions designed to intimidate trade unionist and suppress lawful trade union action,” wrote Waldorff.
PSI took a swipe at government’s mass dismissals of civil servants who took part in last year’s two month long strike.
The issue of essential services once again came to the fore with PSI telling government that the designation of almost all public services as essential services was contrary to ILO standards. After the strike, government classified several civil services including veterinary, teaching, and diamond sorting and cutting as essential services.
Government was also slammed for harassing trade unionists and unilaterally withdrawing benefits that public sector trade unions had previously enjoyed.
“We reiterate our condemnation of all acts of intimidation against sector trade unionist in Botswana. We call on your government to take on the necessary measures to guarantee that workers’ rights including the rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining and freedom of expression can be effectively exercised,” said Waldorff.
Botswana is a member of ILO and Waldorff further reminded the leadership of the country of their obligations as an ILO and PSI member.
But, Botswana government’s mouthpiece, Dr Jeff Ramsay brushed off the memo.
“There is a four year wage freeze for public servants in the United States. In the United Kingdom the public service is being cut and countries in Western Europe are cutting public service salaries. So we are not worse than everyone else, such that there is no danger of any public relations backlash,” Ramsay said.
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