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ILO gives Mabeo ultimatum

Publishing Date : 11 June, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

The Minister responsible for Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Tshenolo Mabeo has been given up to November to have fulfilled the new recommendations by International Labour Organization (ILO).


The Botswana government appeared before the 107th International Labour Conference (ILC) which ended yesterday (Friday), to answer for four counts of negligence of deadlines and failure to implement recommendations from last year’s recommendations. Appearing before the ILO Committee of Applied Standards (CAS) government representative, Dr Athalia Molokomme acknowledged the recommendations of the committee and confirmed that the government is pursuing labour review through the tripartite labour law review committee.


“The government was committed to engaging experts meeting in November 2018 and would continue to resort to the tripartite structures to progress with the legislative agenda and reforms, including the labour law review, during the November sitting of parliament,” she said.
For a long time now, since government and trade unions washed their dirty linen in the international stage scene, the main contention has been freedom of association and protection of the right to organize convention.


The committee welcomed government’s agreement to broaden the scope of the labour law review. Taking into account the government submissions and the discussion that followed, the committee called upon the Mabeo led Ministry to implement some recommendations.
 “Amend the trade unions and employers organizations act, in consultation with employers and workers organizations to bring in into conformity with the convention,” ILO advised.


The Labour ministry, which is now working hand in hand with Nonofo Molefhi’s Presidential Affairs and Public Administration ministry, is yet to provide further information on the court of appeal ruling on the invalidity of statutory provisions. CAS further wants the government to ensure that the registration of trade unions in law and in practice conforms to the convention and process pending applications for the registration of trade unions in particular the public sector which have met the requirements set out by law.


The committee had called upon the government to address these recommendations within the framework of the ongoing labour law review and in full consultation with the social partners. The government is further urged to continue availing itself to ILO technical assistance in this regard and to report progress of the committee of experts before its meeting in November 2018.  


The Committee, in the letter to the local delegation, said it regrets that despite the request of the Conference Committee, the Government’s report had not been received. This has also been confirmed by BOFEPUSO Secretary Tobokani Rari.  “While we appreciate what has been done, it should be noted that we are disappointed by the government failure to abide by the deadlines set by committee.”


“While noting the classification at national level of the prison service as ‘disciplined force’, the Committee reiterates that the police, the armed forces and the prison service are governed by separate legislation, which does not provide members of the prison service with the same status as the armed forces or the police,” read a statement from ILO. The government has been requested to once again, take within the framework of the ongoing labour law review, the necessary legislative measures to ensure that prison officers enjoy the right to establish and join trade unions.


CAS has pleaded with the Government to take the necessary measures to amend the Trade disputes bill to reduce the list of essential services accordingly. While the committee noted the Government’s statement before the Conference that, while the interruption of certain services in some countries may only cause economic hardships, it can prove disastrous in others and rapidly lead to conditions that might endanger the life, personal safety or health of the population and stability of the country;


that flexibility is necessary to take into account the socio-economic circumstances of the country; and that the original list of essential services in the Trade Dispute Act. Essential services, in which the right to strike may be restricted or even prohibited, as is the case in Botswana, should be limited to those the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the workers.

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