4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Botswana

The ITUC affiliate in Botswana is the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU).

In practice

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Management of Unitrans fails to bargain in good faith with unions 15-06-2016

The management of Unitrans consistently refused to bargain with the Botswana Transport and Allied Workers Union (BOTRAWU). The union acquired recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. in April 2014 after an overwhelming majority of the workforce endorsed it. Since then, the management failed to bargain on a number of labour issues, including the enforcement of the wage negotiations agreement, lack of payment of the agreed meal allowance, taxing of wages for numerous deductions, and the reduced working hours of the trade union members. The company also dismissed 24 union members without any consultation with the union. All of those workers participated in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
that took place early in 2015.

BOTRAWU applied to the High Court seeking a declaration that Unitrans was in breach of the wage negotiations agreement. The union also registered a dispute with District Labour offices on the other unfair labour practices. However, Unitrans did not attend the meeting at the Ministry of Labour offices on 15 June where the matter was to be heard.

Government fails to negotiate with unions prior to the planned liquidation of BCL Limited, resulting in putting in danger more than 6000 jobs 09-10-2016

More than 6,000 mine workers in Botswana will lose their jobs following the move to place state-owned mining company BCL Limited into voluntary liquidation. This includes an estimated 5,500 workers at the BCL copper mine in Selebi Phikwe and 700 workers at the Tati Nickel Mine in Francistown. In addition, another 1,000 contract workers will lose their jobs at BCL.

The Government announced that it was closing BCL Limited on 7 October. The company was placed into liquidation on 9 October. All jobs were terminated by the end of that month. The decision regarding liquidation came without any warning or attempt to negotiate with the Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU). The liquidation procedure did not include any provisions for workers, while many of them live in company houses, obtain child school allowance or received medical treatment provided by the company healthcare program, including HIV medication. The appointed liquidator refused to recognise the company’s retrenchment agreement as a basis for the conditions of retrenchment.

Police brutally attacks peaceful picket organized by unemployed youths 08-08-2016

The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has condemned the manner in which the Botswana police force handled a peaceful picket organised on 8 August.

A number of unemployed youth organised a peaceful picket in front of the Parliament, seeking legislators’ intervention to force the Government to create more jobs. The police responded with force, assaulting many of the participants, leaving them with visible scars. A number of journalists present were also assaulted and forced to delete any footage they had retained. Some of the participants, as well as journalists, were later detained on charges of “public nuisance”, including the president of the Botswana National Front Youth League.

Public sector union leaders under attack 12-12-2016

Several public sector union leaders experienced dismissal, termination of secondment or abusive transfer resulting in serious impediments to trade union activity. The Secretary General of the Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, was dismissed after being charged with being absent from duty, contrary to his authorised secondment to the trade union office in accordance with a previous agreement with the Government. The President of Botswana Federation of Public & Private Sector Unions (BOFEPPUSU), Johannes Tshukudu, was transferred to another ministerial department with the effect that he was neither eligible for his function nor for the upcoming elections for the presidency of the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU). The former president of BTU, Japhta Radibe, was compelled into early retirement. BOFEPUSU consider that these actions were deliberately aimed at obstructing the trade union movement in the country.

Unions not allowed to address the Parliament 15-07-2016

The Government ignored the requests of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to be allowed to address the General Assembly over the proposed legislative reform that that would drastically limit freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
in the public sector. The amendment to the Trade Dispute Act extends the status of essential services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
to the entire civil service and the amendment to the Public Service Act provides that members of the Public Service Bargaining Council are to be chosen by the Government. BOFEPUSU argued that the request had been formally lodged three times, without response. The Speaker of the National Assembly and her office denied receiving any such requests. The union intended to hold countrywide demonstrations against the draconian laws and in protest at not being allowed to raise its concerns with the Parliament.

Court decides against anti-union discrimination at Botswana University of Agriculture 20-03-2017

The Manual Workers Union successfully litigated against the decision of the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) not to extend a 3% inflation adjustment to the staff members who were union members. The University argued that the unions had advocated against the adjustment in 2016 when it was offered to all public workers, and were therefore excluded from its application. The Court found the regulation to be discriminatory and awarded a correction in payment of the adjustment backdated from 1 April 2016 when the adjustment was granted to all public service workers.

Australian mining company locks out workers and prevents trade unionists from entering the enterprise premises05-03-2015

The Australian listed mining company, Discovery Metals Limited (DML), locked out 422 workers and abandoned its Boseto Copper Mine, using help from the Botswana police force. Workers were ordered to stop working during the night shift at about 2.30 a.m. on 27 February and told to move all equipment to the surface halfway. They were then assembled together with all other workers at the mine and told by DML’s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Fulker, in the presence of members of the Botswana police force, that management had no authority at the mine any longer and that they must leave the mine premises, including company accommodation, immediately. Workers were not allowed to ask questions, were forced onto buses by the police and abandoned in Maun, a town 90 kilometers away. The Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) was not informed of this decision by management prior to the lockout lockout A form of industrial action whereby an employer refuses work to its employees or temporarily shuts down operations. . When BMWU officials arrived at the mine, they were initially refused entry onto the premises by police and then denied access to workers by management. Three hours later management reluctantly allowed the officials to speak to the remaining workers about to board the last two buses.

Refusal to reinstate public sector workers20-03-2013

The High Court of the Republic of Botswana, ruled that the mass dismissals carried out on 16 May 2011 after the national strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, were justified. (High Court Civil Case, MAHLB 000631 11). The Botswana Landboards and Local Authorities Workers’ Union, Botswana Public Employees’ Union and the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers’ Union received a judgement on 21st June 2012, reinstating the 2,934 workers. It is against this decision that the Attorney General appealed, for and on behalf of the Director of Public Service Management.

Government bans unions’ songs19-09-2012

The Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Carter Morupisi, warned the Botswana Sector for Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) about singing songs that could be considered as “provocative” after union members sang songs during the celebration of their 25th anniversary and annual conference. He pointed out that “good working relations between the employees and the employer” will be strained, if BOSETU did not stop singing songs about food allowances and higher wages.

Disruption at workers’ rally23-03-2013

A workers’ rally held by the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) at Ditshegwane was disrupted by the BDP Youths and Security Agents who intimidated workers taking pictures and videos of them and threatening that they would give the images to the employer to ensure the dismissal of the participating workers.

Obstacles to collective bargaining13-03-2012
Refusal to bargain in good faith23-05-2012

On 23 May 2012, the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) complained that the government had not nominated its representatives to the bargaining council and was thus delaying salary negotiations. The government had also failed to give the unions information on its total workforce and wage bill.

Refusal to recognise unions20-06-2012

The Botswana Technology Centre (BOTEC) refused to recognise the National Amalgamated Local & Central Government Workers Union (NALCGWU) on the grounds that it had previously reached a recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. agreement with the Maranyane Staff Union. On 20 June 2012, the Industrial Court ruled in favour of NALCGWU.

Collective bargaining still weak31-12-2011
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