BOFEPUSU, BFTU dispute 10 951 jobs figures
Trade unions dismiss Serame’s clai20 000 jobs lost according to Statistics Botswana
Trade unions has poured cold water on the announcement by Minister of Trade and Industry (MITI) Peggy Serame that her ministry facilitated the creation of a total of 10 951 jobs in 2020.
Serame made the statement in parliament last week Thursday while presenting the committee of supply budget proposals for her ministry emphasizing that the jobs are against 11 400 target. Unions say that the reality of massive job losses on the ground differs with the minister’s figures. The outspoken Deputy Secretary General of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Ketlhalefile Motshegwa cast aspersions on jobs said to be created in year 2020.
Militant Motshegwa said it is disheartening that in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic whereby workers are losing jobs due to retrenchments it was lackluster for minister to utter vague figures.
According to him, the government ministers has made it a habit not to tell truth on salient issues. “The minister is not telling the truth. Government employment creation policy is failing and the latter also fail to engage us on the policies. There is no robust employment creation policy,” he said.
Motshegwa also said was disturbing that the minister couldn’t single out sectors that jobs were created from adding that jobs created by jobs must be informed by valid figures but to no avail.
He is also concerned that government has no viable recovery plan that would save the jobs too.
“We engaged with government regarding the recovery plan post Covid-19 and we were told of the revised National Development Plan (NDP11) proposed developments. Their roadmap is not clear at all. People are losing jobs and government all consider to retrench. It is bad,” he added.
Echoing the same sentiments, Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) Secretary General Thusang Butale said the minister is not holistic and realistic on the figures of the created jobs.
Butale says it is so important to reconcile the figures released by the Statistics Botswana (SB) on the job losses, Serame’s 10 000 jobs and linking it to what is happening on the ground currently.
“Government should concede to the fact that workers are losing jobs in the key sectors such as tourism, mining, alcohol and in informal sector too. The minister shouldn’t just out of the reality say 10 000 jobs were created. Where and how when reality on ground differs?” he asked rhetorically.
Butale said there has been no economic activity that was taking place for a year to show that there has been an absorption of people in employment both in the private and public sectors.
He cautioned that many job losses are on the pipeline, adding that poverty as well as the gap between the rich and poor will increase something that will add to economic inequality woes.
Meanwhile, Serame said her ministry through its departments and parastatals facilitated 532 business start up against an annual target of 1 015 with P773 million achieved in Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI).
According to Statistics Botswana ( SB), the unemployment rate went up by 1.3 percentage points, from 23.2 percent in the quarter one of 2020, to 24.5 percent in quarter four 2020.
The government statistics agency also said the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in loss of 20 000 jobs according to its quarterly Multi- Topic Survey: Labour Force Module Report quarter 4 of 2020.
Statistics Botswana said the employed population recorded a decline of 2.4 percent between quarter one and four from 751, 798 to 733, 875 people attributing a decline to the COVID-19.
“The formal sector employment went down from 492,914 in quarter one of 2020 to 477,716 in quarter four of 2020, a decrease of 3.1 percent. The levels of unemployment has increased as people lost jobs due to the pandemic. However some people gained employment as a result of the pandemic,” said SB noting that youth unemployment went up from 30.5 to 32.4 percent too.
BOFEPUSU and BFTU are also worried that State of Public Emergency is (SoPE) adds to job woes.
The trade unions warn that more jobs would be lost post the SoPE as businesses are financially constrained with Motshegwa and Butale urging government to brace for an economic disaster.