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‘We respect workers rights’

Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Mr Tshenolo Mabeo says government will consider the recommendations from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the aim of improving labour relations in Botswana.

However, Mr Mabeo highlighted at a press conference in Gaborone on Friday that recommendations simply reiterated a process to reform labour laws in Botswana which had already commenced.

An international labour conference meeting in Geneva, Switzerland last week recommended that the government of Botswana should allow prison services employees to unionise and also amend the Trade Disputes Act of 2016 so that it conforms to Convention No.87 of ILO.

According to Minister Mabeo, the committee on Application of Conventions and Recommendations further pointed that Botswana’s Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act, should be amended to align it with ILO conventions and other laws, and also asked government to liaise with ILO technical committee for holistic review of labour laws.

The committee asked government to develop a time bound action plan for implementation of the above recommendations and report progress made to the committee by November 2017.

These recommendations were made after Botswana was listed to present a report to the committee on implementation of the ILO Convention on freedom of workers to associate and organise in the country.

Mr Mabeo, who attended the conference together with a delegation of government and employers’ and workers’ representatives, said the listing of Botswana emanated from reports from workers groups to the ILO relating to the Trade Disputes Act of 2016.

He however, explained that the listing of various sectors under essential services was done in good faith and premised on government’s view on socio-economic circumstances of the country.

“The committee on application considered essential services to be those services whose interruption would endanger the lives, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.However, the committee pointed that flexibility might be exercised in determining the list of essential services, saying account might be taken on special circumstances existing in member countries where the interruption of certain services in some countries might cause economic hardships and rapidly lead to conditions that might endanger lives, personal safety or health of the population. The list of essential services in the Trade Disputes Act 2016 was developed in good faith considering the unique circumstances prevailing in Botswana as determined by Parliament,” Mr Mabeo said.

He said with regard to unionisation by prison services, government’s position was that prisons officers were members of the disciplined force and as such custodians of public safety and security.

He said since ILO was an international organisation whose role was to advise member states on the implementation of ILO conventions and recommendations and compliance of the laws to the conventions ratified by member states, Botswana intended to consider these recommendations seriously.

“We still intend to continue our dialogue with employers represented by Business Botswana, labour movements represented by the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and Botswana Federation for Public Sector Trade Unions (BOFEPUSU) since they have been active players in this process as members of the tripartite structures facilitated by the ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development,” he said.

He stated that their report to the Committee on Application of Conventions and Recommendations indicated that a lot of effort was made by government to work together with trade unions and employer organisations to make reform labour laws in this country.

The minister explained that reforming of the labour laws was being intended to address gaps in the Acts, make laws conducive to doing business and incorporate the various decisions of the courts and to also align the acts with the international labour standards that Botswana has ratified.

“We have held consultations between government, employment and workers organisations and representatives of ILO mission from Pretoria during a meeting in April,” he said. He said another mission came from ILO headquarters in

Geneva and consulted government, employers and workers organisations and there was a general consensus that the main focus of the reforms should be the Employment Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act.

“It was further agreed that since some provisions in the Employment Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act might have a bearing on the provisions of other labour laws the reforms should include those other laws to the extent necessary,” Mr Mabeo said. BOPA

Source : BOPA

Author : Jeremiah Sejabosigo

Location : Gaborone

Event : Press conference

Date : Jun 19 Mon,2017

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