Commissioner of Labour blames the law that does not recognise the unique nature of their job
Workers in the tourism sector especially those working in the Okavango Delta and Chobe Enclave have been left in the lurch as the current labour laws are failing to protect them, revealed the Commissioner of Labour Goitseone Kokorwe when appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Labour.
Kokorwe admitted that the law is an obstacle as it applies to everybody whilst the situation within the tourism sector is unique as it has its own challenges.
One of the issues she raised was the rest days for workers as they work in the middle of the delta far from their area of residence.
“They can fully enjoy their rest days as they are confined in the delta and as such their employers have decided to allow them to take two to three months of leave,” she said.
Kokorwe said that one needs to holistically understand the challenges in the area, saying there are certain issues that have to be taken into consideration when reviewing the labour law to address the challenges in the tourism sector.
“The Law is an obstacle as it applies to everybody whether in the delta or in the urban area; thus posing a serious challenge,” she reasoned. She informed the committee that they have challenges when trying to access the areas for labour inspections as most of them are accessible by air.
“We are trying everything we can to access the areas by seeking help from other ministries who have the means to access the areas,” she said.
Botswana Hotel Catering Travelling and Tourism Workers Union (BHCTTWU) President Phologolo Ntswetswe said the situation in the tourism sector is deplorable with workers at the mercy of the employer.
“We have our reservations about reviewing the law and making the workers to only take their rest days after a month or two; we must take into considerations their health and wellness,” he said.
Ntswetswe said that they have pleaded with the Commissioner of Labour to be part of the inspections but their requests have been turned down.
“Our main problem with the reports after inspections is that they don’t reflect what is on the ground,” said Ntswetswe.
He applauded And Beyond Company as well as Cresta hotels for making an effort to improve conditions of work for their employees after they confronted them.
University of Botswana Political Science lecturer Kealeboga Dipogiso said that the incompetence within the Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development in ensuring compliance to fair labour standards in the country is disturbing.
“There is widespread indecency in the workplace, both private and public employment that borders on inhuman treatment and abuse of human rights. The ministry needs to strengthen inspectorate to ensure that there is compliance to proper labour standards,” said Dipogiso.
He said the ministry needs to build capacity to improve their services to cover the length and breadth of the country to enforce compliance, particularly in the tourism industry.