BFTU not convinced by reason to extend the SOE

Kabelo Adamson

Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is doubtful over the reasons advanced by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to extend the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) by a further six months.

Last week, parliament approved the request by the President to extend the period by another six months as a way to control the spread of the Coronavirus in the country.

However BFTU Secretary-General, Thusang Butale said the Federation was not convinced by the reasons advanced to extend the SOE.

“We still feel and believe that the reasons that the President spoke about are not sufficient, there needed to be more conclusive reasoning in his speech concerning the SOE,” Butale told journalists in Gaborone on Wednesday.

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Butale said they had supported the government in the initial steps taken to fight the spread of the disease was first discovered in Botswana.

With those steps that have been implemented in the first SOE, Butale said it was important to review how those steps have fared.
“As BFTU, we feel that the review part is still lacking from the government, we believe that the six months State of Public Emergency needed to come with a comprehensive review of what has happened in the past six months before a decision could be made,” said Butale.

Butale believes the government owes Batswana that review to appreciate what has happened in the initial SOE.

“We need to be very clear on it, it shouldn’t be something that we only speak about on the corridors, it should be clear that government needs to give Batswana a comprehensive report on the review of the past six months of the State of Public Emergency,” said BFTU Secretary-General.

Butale said what they have realized during this period is that workers are not paid well, even though the regulations prohibit retrenchments and illegalizes industrial action.

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“Workers are not paid well, wages are cut unilaterally by the employer, leave days are being taken without agreements and there are no consultations,” stressed Butale.

Butale said some companies have sent their employees home and have been told that they will be called back to work once there is some job for them.

“Essentially, though the regulations say there is no retrenchments, if you are sitting at home without getting paid a thebe, that’s the same as being retrenched because your employer is not paying you,” noted Butale, stressing there is no difference between the two.

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He said some employees might find themselves in a more precarious situation as they might be tied up contractually which will prohibit them from finding other jobs.

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