Gov’t Wants To Meet Unions For SOE exit Plan

  • Unions to demand action against businesses that violated the SOE


The government has asked for a meeting to present an exit plan from the state of emergency to the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) .

This comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s recent announcement that the SOE would not be extended when it comes to an end this month.

The Secretary General of BFTU, Thusang Butale, told The Botswana Gazette that there is high expectation that there will be massive job losses at the beginning of next month and that this calls for ensuring protection of workers. “Government had proposed to meet us as the social partners on Monday (this week) to discuss the SOE exit plan but somehow the meeting failed to materialise,” Butale disclosed.

He added that BFTU has always been concerned that the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development is under-resourced but there is a need to ensure that there is a robust dispute resolution mechanism when a country exits a state of emergency.

“We also have issues of limited labour inspectors but they should be going around identifying companies that retrenched when they were restricted from doing so,” Butale pointed out, adding that unions have a proposal around this to engage the employment ministry on. He called for tripartite consultations to ensure that the anticipated rise in labour cases do not overwhelm the system.

However, he said BFTU is aware that many ministries are working on their respective exit plans. However, he observed, much attention has been on health issues while businesses were disregarded. “National social dialogue structures have been lacking but there should be consultations on economic recovery,” he noted.

At BOFEPUSU, Johannes Tshukudu said he expects aggrieved workers to report their cases at the end of the SOE because some private companies have been trampling on labour laws. “Labour laws have always been there but some regulations were temporarily suspended due to the SOE,” the president of BOFEPUSU pointed out. “We will be following all these cases.”

Tshukudu called for discussion of a plan to deal with delinquent companies and to address anticipated labour issues after the SOE. “There is no denying that a lot of people have lost their jobs and incomes in the face of clear SOE regulations against retrenching,” said Tshukudu.

In February this year, labour minister Mpho Balopi said the government would act against companies that retrenched employees during the SOE without informing the Commissioner of Labour.

Addressing Parliament, Balopi said the government was concerned about reported incidents of illegal retrenchments in spite of businesses being cushioned against hard effects of COVID-19. The minister added some of the ‘offending’ companies had already been taken to court.