Botswana unions go to court over fired public workers
(InformAfrica)– Botswana labour unions have asked a court to force the government to reinstate nearly 2,600 public services workers fired during the country’s first national strike in April, an official said Friday.
“Our comrades were participating in a legal strike and the government has no right to dismiss them, hence the decision to seek court’s intervention,” said Andrew Motsamai, president of Botswana Public Employees Union.
The other unions involved in the action are the Botswana Land Board and Local Authorities Worker’s Union and National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatals Worker’s Union.
The workers, including doctors and nurses, were fired after the state won a court order forcing them to return to work, after they embarked on the nationwide mass action over wages.
The unions argue that the workers’ actions did not warrant dismissal.
“It is therefore incorrect to fire these workers on the grounds that they disregarded court orders,” said Motsamai.
The workers were demanding a 16 percent salary hike, but eventually accepted a three percent raise, after the government said it could not afford a larger increase.
The strike, which was the largest ever in the country, shut down schools and some clinics, while hospitals operated on skeleton staff.
After the strike, the minister of labour classified teachers, diamond workers, and the national vaccine institute as essential services, so that they cannot participate in future strikes.
The move was seen by unions as an attempt to weaken future strikes.