Around 100,000 public sector workers in Botswana, Southern Africa have been on strike since 18 April 2011. After enduring a three year wage freeze, which has left salaries well below the cost of living, workers are demanding a 16% wage rise. All attempts at negotiation have ended in deadlock and the strike continues.
The Government has responded by dismissing hundreds of workers classified as providing essential services, including doctors and nurses. Leaders of public sector unions have been periodically detained and released without charged. Hospitals, schools and other vital public services have been paralysed as a result of the strike. There are concerns that the protests are becoming increasingly violent as security forces seek to silence the striking workers by “whatever means possible”.
PSI and its affiliates in Botswana, Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEPU); the Botswana Unified Local Government Service Association (BULGSA) and the National Amalgamated Local and Government Parastatal Workers’ Union (NALCGPWU), are calling on the Government to show true leadership by engaging in constructive dialogue with unions to find a way forward and reach a peaceful settlement of this dispute.
Workers are fully aware that the principle of “no work, no pay” will apply during the strike action but are determined to pursue their course until the government is prepared to make a meaningful offer. Unions are urging the Government to give negotiations a fair chance and are demanding the reinstatement of all dismissed workers.
PSI fully supports the demands of its affiliates in Botswana and has written to the Government, urging it to return to the negotiating table in good faith and to respond positively to the demands of the workers.
Please do your part to end this deadlock and restore public services in Botswana by writing to the Government.