The paramountcy of workers’ worth and dignity will take centre-stage at today’s May Day commemorations at the Francistown civic centre. Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) has chosen the theme: Striving for dignity and the worth of Workers to signal the importance of the worker.
The acting Commissioner of Labour, Goitseone Kokorwe will officiate at the symposium while Labour and Home Affairs minister, Edwin Batshu will be the guest speaker of the May Day. “Invitations have been extended to the city Members of Parliament (MPs), Dikgosi, councillors. There will be lighting of candles of hope for the workers in Botswana in solidarity with the employees dismissed in the 2011 strike.
These lighted candles will also symbolise the dedication that the workers have to liberating themselves,” revealed the deputy secretary general of BOFEPUSU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa. There will be a labour symposium and capacity building on various areas such as the evolution of the labour law regime in Botswana, the role of trade unions in public policy and understanding the development of trade unionism in Botswana. There will also be a presentation on trade unions and the media or how the media plays a role in advancing the working class agenda, he said.
Motshegwa said that the theme of the event was informed by the need of the federation to enhance the working class agenda so that whoever deviates from it will be deflected as anti the agenda of the workers. “The federation wants to utilise this year’s May Day celebrations to bring about unity of the working class in order to wage a meaningful war against the manifestations of capitalism that undermine the role and benefits of the workers in the political economy,” said the statement.
Motshegwa also observed that the labour movement in Botswana had realised tremendous growth. “The first stage of growth was the transformation from associations to trade unions and the domestication of ILO conventions,” he observed. Hailing the 2011 public servants strike as having ushered in a paradigm shift towards raising working class consciousness and seriousness in defending, advancing and deepening the rights of the workers, he however lamented over a response strategy by the ruling government, which, according to him is trying to divert the working class by infiltrating them by misleading some union members including those in leadership positions to betray the struggle of the unions.