President of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) Johannes Tshukudu has berated the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government for shunning the introduction of a Living Wage.
Briefing a Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Home Affairs, he called on the government to review wages by scrapping off minimum wage to address the expanding economic inequalities.
Disgruntled Tshukudu said it was premature and ill-advised for the ruling party to reject the Living Wage motion brought by the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in 2018.
Back in 2018, UDC through former Jwaneng\Mabutsane MP Shawn Ntlhaile brought a motion calling for establishment of decent living wage policy but the BDP MPs blocked the motion.
A P3 000.00 Living Wage was a key promise from the UDC in its elections manifesto during the 2019 general elections though critics doubted its sustainability.
Tshukudu said BOFEPUSU is in support of a Living Wage proposal as compared to the Minimum wage, noting that the minimum wage was impoverishing the working class
“Taking into consideration the circumstances of Covid-19 whereby employees’ salaries are being slashed this shows that the living wage was necessary by the time BDP MPs rejected bill. Workers are the most suffering because P1200 salary is not meeting their cost of living,” he said.
To this end, he cautioned the BDP government to put the interests of Batswana first guided first by what is really happening on the ground before they can use their numbers to defeat good motions in Parliament.
He went on to berate president Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration, saying that there was a leadership vacuum in the country due to ill-advised decisions taken by government officials.
Tshukudu buttressed that the role of leadership is undermined as everyone who has got money and relationship with echelons of power is made a leader; hence taking the country backwards.
Repeated efforts to reach BDP Spokesperson Kagelelo Kentse proved futile as he didn’t respond at press time to questions sent to him.
However, Kentse recently told this publication that the BDP-led government under the leadership of Masisi is committed to better conditions of citizens.
Kentse was responding to the criticism by opposition Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Chairman Nehemiah Modubule, who scoffed BDP for failing discipline forces employees.
Modubule said BMD is upset by BDP’s verdict to turn a blind eye by not supporting the Prisons Amendment Bill seeking to address welfares issues of Warders as tabled through a motion by MP for Selibe-Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse.
BOSETU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said good conditions for workers waned during the period of State of Public Emergency (SOE) due to government’s negligence, warning that the extension of state of emergency will increase crisis to workers.
“The state of emergency is very serious problem. We were bold and clear that SOE should be thrown away because it is not bringing anything positive despite creating crisis for workers. The big companies that rake in millions of Pula profits locally are retrenching staff. It’s bad,” Rari declared.
He implored government through the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity and Skills Development to ensure all employers in the private sector provide safety for their workers too.
Rari said government must issue a directive for landlords, especially commercial landlords to give tenants six (6) months free lease and ensure paid sick leave for workers who are on self-isolations.
The Acting Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Employment Claude Mojafi caused a stir when he said there was no specified provision law that compels employers to pay workers who are in isolation.
Rari to this end said there were drastic salary cuts, to an extent that some of companies ended up not paying employees; adding that employees were left vulnerable due to the absence of PPEs.