- Encourages unions to participate in his Reset Agenda
- Congratulates BOFEPUSU, BFTU on working together: “Keep it up, comrade!”
- But leaked memo could cast a shadow of pessimism over salary negotiations
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has once again repeated his commitment to reviving the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) to Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU).
The President said this in his virtual keynote address to the unions during their commemoration of Labour Day in Maun over the weekend. This also came at a time when the government and the unions have just commenced public service salary negotiations for the 2022/2023 financial year.
President Masisi made a similar commitment to BOFEPUSU and BFTU in the lead-up to the 2019 general elections. In his Labour Day address last Sunday, he said that the recently rationalised priorities in the President’s Reset Agenda carry renewed hope for workers in Botswana.
“Let me also recognise the training that was recently organised by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to capacitate … negotiation skills to facilitate social dialogue,” he said. “Such empowerment will go a long way in facilitating social and economic development of this country.”
President Masisi added that this year’s theme of “Empowering Workers and Strengthening Social Dialogue for Real Economic Recovery and Transformation in the Workplace” resonates well with the principle of consultation, noting that the culture of Batswana is anchored in consultation.
“The consultation concept, which also forms part of the core pillars of labour relations, has trickled down to all spheres of development of this country,” he said noting that this year’s commemoration of Labour Day marks the third consecutive year “of our existence with the COVID-19 pandemic” that has rendered it impossible to physically congregate to commemorate this important day.
“I note that this day is commemorated under a national theme, ‘Empowering Workers and Strengthening Social Dialogue for Real Economic Recovery and Transformation in the Workplace.’ This theme cannot be more fitting because it espouses the very ideals that we cherish as a democratic government, which are to empower Batswana to participate in the economic development of their country, and to have an equitable share in its gains so as to eradicate poverty altogether.”
President Masisi appealed to the two union federations to actively take part in the Reset Agenda to help stimulate the economic recovery of the country. “I wish to commend you BOFEPUSU and BFTU for working together in advancing the interests of the workers,” he said. “This joint commemoration on its own gives my heart a lot of gratitude as it shows commitment, maturity, foresight and willingness to make a difference in the labour relations of this country. Keep it up, comrades!”
Meanwhile, this year’s civil service negotiations are expected to be tense after a confidential memo stating that the poor state of the budget means no increment can be awarded to civil servants was leaked.
Civil servants received increments ranging from 6 percent to 10 percent in the 2019/20 and the 2020/21 financial years. The increments, together with the impact of COVID-19, have been blamed for worsening budget deficits that led to widening the country’s tax base and raising taxes and levies in April 2021.