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BOPEU puts workers interests first

07 May, 2015

Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) president, Mr Andrew Motsamai, says they will not take a biased political position in favour of a particular political party without the mandate of members.

Mr Motsamai told a press conference in Gaborone on May 5 that the union was taking principled positions on national issues without fear or favour in the interest of workers.

He said it was perhaps that in the 1980s there was a cold war between the then pro-west ICFTU and Pro-east WFTU, which added to the divisions, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, that which explains why Botswana Federations of Trade Unions adopted a seemingly neutral stand on party alignment.

With regard to lobbying and engagement with the Office of the President (OP), Mr Motsamai said BOPEU leadership recently engaged with that office on a range of issues affecting the members.

“We are happy with the outcome; we will continue to engage other organs of the Government. It is not a new development as we have been doing this for years and many of the public servants achieved improved conditions of service as a result of such interaction,” he said.

He condemned those who questioned their engagement with OP, saying that they did not understand the role of a Trade Union. He said the role of a union was to develop a working relationship with those in power, to engage them on issues affecting their members.

“Policy is the prerogative of those in power – our role is to contest it,” he exclaimed. He cited an example where teachers’ unions engaged the Ministry of Education and Skills Development on level of operation or supervision of sporting activities outside the Bargaining Council, was viewed by the media as legitimate interactions, but to their dismay, when BOPEU interact with OP it is ‘selling out’.

Mr Motsamai said BOPEU had to engage the OP as its membership cut across the entire government. He said their first point of call was the Directorate of Public Service Management, which is a department under OP. “When we engage the OP we are administratively engaging the Permanent Secretary to the President,” he said. Ends