Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) – an umbrella federation of public sector unions has accused government of poor coordination and indecisiveness in its fight against COVID-19.
In a press statement released today by the federation’s Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, BOFEPUSU argues that the fight against COVID-19 requires joint efforts and unity of all stakeholders and Batswana in general.
“We as Trade Unions and workers are highly dedicated to this cause as Republican duty to ensuring a healthy and safe nation,” says Motshegwa.
The Federation has however expressed worries that these efforts are seriously hampered by too much red tape, poor coordination and indecisiveness on the part of Government.
As of Friday some employees have not been given permits to enable them to access their workstations.
Most employees are stuck without transport to work because there is no arrangement made for them after stoppage of public transport, reads part of the statement. Botswana went on a lockdown Thursday midnight after four people tested positive for COVID-19. Of the four, one has already died in Ramotswa.
BOFEPUSU said Friday that there is a crisis in that some employees are still without personal protective equipment (PPE's), something which endangers their lives. It is unfortunate and problematic that Government has failed to give employees PPEs but then threaten them that if they don't work they will be disciplined, Motshegwa said. “This is irresponsibility at its best.”
The Deputy Secretary General said the federation they have put some proposals before government as efforts of protection and safety of employees.
-That the Minister responsible declares COVID-19 as an occupational disease for legal protection of employees in terms of compensation.
- 100 percent medical aid coverage for frontline officers to mitigate medical expenses
-That Government establishes an Insurance Fund for life coverage of frontline employees
-Arrangement for frontline officers to be adequately assisted with protective clothing, accommodation, feeding and all necessary logistical arrangements to enable them to effectively deliver services to the public
-Enhancement of testing capability in various centres established
Motshegwa said most of these issues have not been implemented; yet employees are required to effectively deal with this pandemic facing the country.
“It is a question of how do you send an army to war without weapons and expect victory in those circumstances,” he said. As a Labour movement we must state that employees remain patriotic and highly prepared to serve the nation, reads the statement in part.
“What they are humbly asking from Government is their safety and protection to be guaranteed in order to deliver their tasks as expected. Other countries already have statistics of deaths of frontline officers who died on the line of duty because their safety and protection was compromised, and we don't want that to happen in this country.”
He said in all these matters they have been engaging with the Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Health), Directorate of Public Service Management, Minister of Presidential Affairs & Public Administration and the Minister of Employment, Productivity & Skills Development.
“This country is at a high risk of COVID-19, and therefore we must all be prompt, decisive and serious with implementation of strategy in the fight against this pandemic,” he said.