By Staff Reporter
The Southern African Trade Unions Coordinating Council says organised workers will continue to fight regional governments’ retrogressive tendencies of refusing police and prison employees to form and belong to labour unions.
In a statement submitted during the ongoing 2018 International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to a Committee of Experts hearing a complaint against the government of Botswana’s alleged abrogation of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 87, COSATU’s Zingiswa Losi observed that this trend was injurious to industrial democracy.
“Southern African Trade Unions Coordinating Council (SATUCC) and all its affiliates in the SADC region align themselves with this statement Chairperson. The various pieces of legislation that the Committee of Experts have noted in this case as deserving of urgent and real amendments, notably the Trade Dispute Act (ACT), the Public Services Bill and the Prison Services Act as crafted by the Government of Botswana were designed to make workers humans without rights,” SATUCC submitted. “We are concerned about this development, which is fast becoming a trend in most countries, especially in Southern Africa. Our worries are hinged on the fact that this trend is injurious to work morale, industrial democracy and productivity. We are equally worried that the Botswana government continues to ignore genuine efforts by the national social partners, especially the workers, as well as the Committee of Experts and this Conference Committee.”
Losi, however, informed the Committee that workers in the traffic, Police and Prisons sector, like all other workers in South Africa, enjoy the right to organise, form organisations of their choice and have representation, including collective bargaining rights.
“This is in conformity with our constitution and the realisation that society gets better, discontent better managed and the chances for attainment of social justice increase when people can express grievances through organised groups,” the statement reads. “COSATU considers this an irreducible minimum for advancing shared progress. Thus, we have continued to showcase POPCRU, a trade union organisation organising Police and workers in the prisons sector has a membership of 28 246 out of 37 613 officials to buttress this point. Clearly, their membership of and activities in trade union have never posed threats to the stability and cohesion of the country or compromised their professionalism in carrying out their official duties.”
It was therefore, according to SATUCC, not useful and wise for the Botswana government to continue to mouth the argument that prisons services workers are members of a disciplined force that cannot be allowed to freely and genuinely organise.
“To the contrary, we are convinced that the disciplined nature of their profession will be an advantage in the running of their independent trade union organisation. The tendency to systematically and administratively stifle and shrink spaces for civil liberties including the rights of workers in Prisons Services is dangerous for economic and societal stability. It is pretentious to say we can live with the silence of the graveyard. It is worse than playing the ostrich. Thus, organised workers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reject this style and approach,” submitted Losi. “Chairperson, SATUCC strongly urges this Conference Committee to call on the Government of Botswana to as a matter of decency, reason and justice to preserve and respect the sanctity of the provisions of this Convention, which is unambiguous, persuasive and practical as to the rights of these workers to freely organise, bargain and to take measures in the protection of these provisions without let or hindrance.”