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Botswana : Don’t let them divide the workers Unite and resist 4% Peanuts !

D 28 avril 2014     H 05:03     A     C 0 messages

We are here on the streets again. The first time since the ‘mother of all strikes’ of the public service workers in 2011. Demonstrating against a unilaterally declared 4% pay rise by the president in complete ignorance and violation of the process of the ongoing bargaining council between BOFEPUSO and government.

Divide and rule tactics

While public sector workers ‘outside the bargaining council’ receive their 4% salary increase immediately, unionized workers have ‘to wait’ until the bargaining council comes to an agreement. The maneuver is clear. Government wants to give workers the message that unions are a ‘problem’. At the same time they want to decisively divide workers along the union lines and destabilize the labour movement in general. Every worker should see through this cheap game.
Hard times – Is 4% not something ?

These are hard times for the working class. Exploitation, oppression and poverty pay, amidst rising cost of living. Workers are suffering and starving in a country repute for democracy and a successful economy. Many workers might think that 4% is better than nothing. And off better getting 4% now than later. But don’t become a pawn in the election game !

In the same way the president likes to hand out blankets and a small house here and there, instead of providing affordable services to all Batswana, the government tries to handout the 4% in order to buy approval from workers in the election year. But workers deserve better. Much better !

Their crisis is not ours

Government’s blunders on national projects, such as Morupule, the water carriers, the international airport, the glass project in Palapye, the power cuts, the undersupply with water is endless. It is neither ‘the foreigners’ nor the lack of productivity of workers to blame, but the blatant incompetency of the government.

They will say, because of all these national problems there is no money. But this story is as old as it is ridiculous. Money was there only spent on the president jet and state house renovations, minister’s houses, cars etc. The government should pay back workers in compensation for the billions wasted in botched projects. It is the government who caused the crisis – why should the workers’ pay for it ?
We would like to repeat the slogan which we put on the front page of our paper ‘Mmereki’ during the 2011 public sector strike : ‘Go, find money and pay us !’

Unite and Resist !

All workers should therefore unite and rally behind the BOFEPUSU leadership – inside or outside of the bargaining council. Workers should join BOFEPUSO. There are data from all over the world that in the end unionized workers do have better working conditions. The crisis requires us to fight together and reject the insulting 4 % offer. Botswana workers deserve decent pay and dignity. In the face of no compromise stance we might need to prepare for the long haul : broaden the protest and find alliance partners. BOFEPUSO needs to negotiate about a package that does not only include a salary increase but also job security, in order to make it clear to workers that only unions can bring them substantial benefits.

Beyond salary negotiation

One of the remarkable gains from the public sector strike is its ability to link economics and politics. The government has always sort to separate what is essentially one thing. By insisting on the need for participating in politics arguing that it shapes their lives and showing that the politicians wield power and they use this power discretionary to make labour laws and to decide economic decisions which affect workers welfare and rights, the unions have helped to raise workers consciousness of their constitutional rights. For a long time the BDP has curtailed freedom of association and the right to organize for public sector workers, relegating them to mere and toothless association which believed in the idiocy of so called political neutrality. The birth of BOFEPUSU shows that organized labour has power however it matters how this working class might is used against the workers enemy-the ruling class and its comprador bourgeoisie alliance. In this perspective we need to think beyond salary demands. As we go to elections this year, you will hear a lot of nonsense and empty promises by those who are refusing to pay workers a decent and dignified salary increment. Don’t be fooled. Your vote is your weapon, use it wisely to change the status quo. Walk the talk by using your political right to vote for change of political power. It’s time to say bye to 54 years of Domkrag misrule and corruption.

There is an alternative ! Vote for a united opposition. Politics matters and shapes economics. The bread and bananas we buy are as political as the poverty pay of supermarket workers.

BOFEPUSU needs your Solidarity now ! Join in the demonstrations and
protests to make your voice heard to defend the labour movement.

Vote united opposition !

Join the socialists !

International Socialists Botswana