What made Botswana to make the short list of countries that are regarded as gross transgressors of the ILO core Conventions?

Botswana Government is accused and charged for having violated two core
convention being, Conventions 87 and 98 and having acted contrary to the
ILO frame work definition of essential service as they, the ILO have
advised through the Committee of Application of Standards (CAS). Convention
87, provides as thus; “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right
to Organize while Convention 98, provides as thus; “The Right to a Organize
and Collective Bargaining”

Where it started

These gross violations started when the government of Botswana in 2012,
reacting to the consequences of the 2011 industrial action decided to
angrily amend the essential service schedule that was part of the then
Trade Dispute act to include among others the teaching service, veterinary
services, air traffic controllers information and broadcasting etc, in
actual fact, about 80% of the workers in Botswana, into the essential
service bracket.

At this first go the minister, Batshu, on his own successfully amended the
schedule. This first attempt was foiled by BOFEPUSU when they took
government to court on the basis that they, Bofepusu, were not consulted
and also that the Minister does not have the powers to amend a schedule.
Bofepusu won the case and the amendment of the schedule was reversed.

The second attempt was in 2013 when government then took the proposed
amendments (same) to the Labour Advisory Board in an attempt the defect
upon which the court upheld the Bofepusu case. Bofepusu still complained
vigorously for not being consulted as at that time, they did not sit on the
LAB. Due pressure mounted by BOFEPUSU by addressing the parliamentary
caucuses of different political parties’ MPs and their labour committees,
the bill was removed from the floor of parliament for further

The third time around was in 2014. This was after consulting the LAB once
more to the exclusion Bofepusu. This time around government was hell bent
to move on in spite of complaints and queries from Bofepusu. They pushed
the bill in parliament and and it was passed as a law during the 2016 July
session of parliament. The President accented to it and it came into effect
November 2017.

The Role Played by BOFEPUSU in Reporting Government to the ILO

Bofepusu on 25th July 2016 lodged a complain to the ILO through the Freedom
of Association Branch Chief, Karen Curtis as laid down in the introductory
letter attached. A detailed report about the state of the violations was as
well attached. The detailed report is as well attached. The core of the
complaint was violation about clear transgressions by government through
the then proposed amendments of the Trade Dispute Act by extending
essential service cadres contrary to the frame work definition of essential
services with a view to weaken the bargaining process by taking away the
only bargain chip of the workers, the right to strike.

The complaint letter as well included the proposed amendments of the PSA
that would kill the bargaining process by killing the autonomy of the
council. And also the proposed amendments of the BEC Act that would result
in teachers being forced to participate in forced labour by carrying out
work for different employer who is a juristic person on her own.

Bofepusu unions on their own individual capacity then made reports to
different international labour groupings that they belong to. Such as
Public Service International and Education International. The organs
assisted in pushing the case of Botswana so that she appears in the long

Botswana included in the long list

Due pressure mounted by the various international organs; PSI, EI, BOFEPUSU
and of course the Bftu, Botswana was able to make it to the long list for
the first time in the history of the country. Upon further lobbying by
bofepusu and all other international labour organs, Botswana was able to
make the list of the top aggressors and violators of the core ILO, that is
Botswana made it to the short list of 24 countries. On 13th June 2017,
Botswana government appeared before the Committee of Application of
Standards (CAS) to answer for the trnsgressions. The Minister of Employment
and Labour Productivity Mr. Tshenolo Mabeo represented government during
the session. Present also was the Minister of Presidential Affairs Mr. Eric

Our view on this Predicament

In our view, this is embarrassing and denting to say the least. There is no
doubt that this taints the image of Botswana and lands a heavy blow to the
democratic credentials of the country that has always been regarded as a
shining example of democracy. This goes a long way to confirm our long held
views that this country’s democracy is weaning by each day that passes.

This situation could have been avoided had the powers that be had listened
to bofepusu. The government of Botswana glaringly walked into a crisis that
bofepusu had fore warned them about. This shows that this is a country that
is immune to advices, anti workers and does not care about international
laws even those that they have ratified.

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