Union drags Botswana govt to ILO

By Staff Reporter

The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions, with backing from the African Labour Federations, has dragged that country’s government before the International Labour Committee on the Application of Standards for allegedly violating a fundamental international labour convention that provides for workers’ freedom of association and right to organise.

And Corinne Vargha, director of the International Labour Standards Department said the matter involving Botswana’s alleged violation of International Labour Organisation Convention 087 would be heard during the forthcoming International Labour Conference to be held in Geneva between May and June.

ILO Convention 087 was adopted on July 9, 1948 at the 31st International Labour Conference held in San Francisco and entered into force on July 4, 1950.

It can only be denounced on or between July 4, 2020 and July 4, 2021.

Article 2 of ILO Convention 087 states that: “Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation.”

It further states in Article 3(2) that: “The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right to impede the lawful exercise thereof.”

In Article 5, ILO Convention 087 provides that: “Workers’ and employers’ organisations shall have the right to establish and join federations and confederations and any such organisation, federation or confederation shall have the right to affiliate with international organisations of workers and employers.”

According to the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) the government violated ILO Convention 087 and it was on that basis that it resolved to report the country to the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS).

“Botswana [needs] to appear before the ILO CAS for violation of ILO CONVENTION 087. African Labour Federations and member states resolved to support BFTU which reported Botswana to ILO,” read a Facebook posting from a BFTU representative. “BFTU has an ILO Labour Centre in Botswana and also an ILC delegate has the backing of ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and other International Labour Federations.”

ITUC is the world’s largest trade union federation. Formed on November 1, 2006, out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour, it currently represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

And in a letter dated April 27, 2018 addressed to ILO member countries expected who have been cited for violating various international labour Conventions, Vargha stated that the list of countries that were supposed to appear before CAS during the 107th International Labour Conference was yet to be made definite.

“As has now been the practice since 2006, please find attached (Annex I) a preliminary list of cases for possible discussion at the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) of the 107thSession (May – June 2018) of the International Labour Conference, which was prepared by the social partners,” the letter read. “The social partners have asked me to specify that this preliminary list is only a tentative list and should not in any way be considered definitive, as the adoption of a final list is a function that only the Conference Committee itself can assume…The list should not give rise to any form of pressure or other prejudicial act against unions or employers’ organisations…I hope that the information contained in this letter and its attachments will assist your country in its preparations for the forthcoming session of the International Labour Conference Committee on the Application of Standards.”