Botswana is one of the worst countries in the world to be a worker, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
ITUC- an alliance of regional trade confederations that advocates for labour rights around the world, presented its inaugural Global Rights Index this week, ranking countries on a 1 (best) through 5 (worst) scale on the basis of how well workers’ rights are protected. Botswana came out worst ranking along countries such as Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
ITUC has been collecting data on the abuse of trade union rights around the world for the past 30 years. “Now for the ﬁrst time the ITUC Global Rights Index presents carefully veriﬁed information from the last 12 months in an easy-to-use format so that every government and business can see how their laws and supply chains stack up,” reads a statement from the organisation.
The organisation used 97 different indicators to compile its index, centered on the ability of workers to join unions, win collective bargaining rights and have access to due process and legal protections. The report evaluates labour rights in 139 countries. The report also ranks Botswana a dismal 4, a sign of “systematic violations” — collective bargaining rights are uneven in the country and unions are far weaker than some of their counterparts in the region. South Africa and Togo were the only better performers in Africa.
New democracies such as Namibia also scored above Botswana. The latter is rated 4 together with 29 countries including Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kenya and Pakistan. This means Botswana is among the worst 30 countries to work in.
According to the report workers in these countries have reported systematic violations. “The government and/or companies are engaged in serious eﬀorts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under continuous threat,” reads part of the report. The relationship between public sector trade unions and government has been at its lowest ebb ever since the unions got involved in a prolonged strike in 2011. Since then the relationship between the two is being managed by the courts of law with case aﬅer case.
Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) secretary general Gadzani Mhotsha has hailed the Global Rights Index report saying it is a fair assessment of the way government is treating trade unions. BFTU is an aﬃliate of ITUC and has been part and parcel of annual surveys secretary general Tobokani Rari said the report vindicates his federation. He said that there is glaring evidence that the government does not comply with many International Labour Organisation (ILO) conversions.
Botswana, he said, does not respect the right to freedom of association, adding that their next court case against government where the latter wants BOFEPUSU to be deregistered is a clear example. amanments should aspire to,” notes ITCUC
general secretary Sharan Burrow. “This new Rights Index puts governments and employers on notice that unions around the world will stand together in solidarity to ensure basic rights at work.” Organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have long indicated that the overriding ﬁscal policy challenge for Botswana is to reduce the size of the government (as a share of GDP) at a time when unions are viewing further job cuts with a lot of suspicion. The government remains the main employer in the economy.
According to the IMF, government’s expenditure envelope (above 30 percent GDP), including the wage bill, is high by international standards, thus warranting a thorough assessment of pockets of unproductive spending and ways to increase eﬃciencies.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE REPORT:
● In the past year, governments of at least 35 countries have arrested or imprisoned workers as a tactic to resist demands for democratic rights, decent wages, safer working conditions and secure jobs.
● In at least nine countries murder and disappearance of workers were commonly used to intimidate workers.
● Workers in at least 53 countries have been dismissed or suspended for attempting to negotiate better working conditions.
● Laws and practices in at least 87 countries exclude certain type of workers from the right to strike.
The ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries from one to five according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in one to ﬁve
1 – Irregular violations of rights: 18 countries including Denmark and Uruguay
2 – Repeated violations of rights: 26 countries including Japan and Switzerland
3 – Regular violations of rights: 33 countries including Chile and Ghana
4 – Systematic violations of rights: 30 countries including Kenya and the USA
5 – No guarantee of rights: 24 countries including Belarus, Bangladesh and Qatar
5+- No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law: 8 countries including Central African Republic and Somalia.
ITUC notes in the report that they believe the Global Rights Index will serve as a useful monitoring tool for policy makers and socially responsible investors. “It will redress the misconception championed by the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report that driving down labour standards is good for business. Mhotsha is also of the view that the powers that be in Botswana should see this (report) as something they can improve on and not to rubbish oﬀ.