The government has reaffirmed its commitment to review labour laws as well as its determination to improve industrial relations.
The Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo said this week in a joint press briefing with the Directorate of Public Service Management, trade unions and Business Botswana that as a result, a Labour Law Review Committee has been established to spearhead a comprehensive review process. He said the Employment Act and the Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act are among those earmarked for review.
The review, he said, would allow labour laws to conform to the implementation of Convention No. 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention as recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Minister Mabeo said the scope of the review would be broadened to include the Public Service Act as well as the Trade Disputes Act.
He noted that the government would ensure that laws are reviewed and bills submitted for discussion by the November Parliament.
“It is important to note that during the government’s engagement with the representatives of employers and workers, it became clear that the amendment of the Trade Disputes Act, particularly with a view to reviewing the list of essential services, was of critical importance to workers,” he said.
Minister Mabeo’s remarks come on the heels of some developments from the just-ended 107th Session of the ILO convention, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Botswana had to answer for failing to implement Convention No. 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.
Botswana had recently been in the limelight following amendment of the Trade Dispute Act that, among others, increased the number of cadres forming part of the essential services to include diamond sorting, cutting and selling services, teaching services, veterinary services in the public service, immigration and the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS), broadcasting services as well as the fuel haulage services.
The Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Nonofo Molefhi said he was confident the taskforce would move expeditiously to review the labour laws.
Molefhi said the government remains readily available to work with workers on the issue, adding the review is not only aimed at satisfying the ILO stipulations but is also designed to help Botswana stay abreast of changes in the labour market.
“Whatever we do, we must be fully aware that we do it for this Republic,” he said. “The government has a desire to re-look at and re-orient our industrial relations,” he said.
Mr Molefi stressed that the government and its aforementioned partners would explore all opportunities to address the issues.
For his part, Trade Unions representative, also Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Secretary General, Tobokani Rari said his organisation is elated at the government’s commitment to work with all relevant partners on reviewing labour laws and making the recommended changes.
Rari further challenged the government to address labour issues and fully comply with all its obligations to the ratified ILO conventions.