Botswana moves to limit strikes

Gaborone – Botswana’s government said on Monday it had amended legislation classifying essential services workers to include teachers in an effort to prevent more civil servants from striking.

Making the announcement through a government gazette, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Peter Siele said that veterinary services, teaching services, diamond sorting, cutting and selling services and all supporting services connected to them have now been placed under the essential services.

“The selection of these services was done in the national interest, with a view to protecting industries which are of critical importance to the economy, and to promote the rights of children to uninterrupted education,” he said.

This means that workers under these services cannot take part in any strike.

Services that were already classified as essential include air traffic control, electricity services, fire services, the bank of Botswana, health services and sewage services.

The announcement came after the country saw its first-ever civil servant strike in Botswana which forced schools and hospitals to close down.

The strike lasted for two months and was suspended last week with unions saying they were going back to the drawing board to chart the way forward.

They are due to hold a special congress on Saturday where they will decide on the next step, which might be to resume the strike.

Civil servants went on strike in April demanding a 16 percent salary increase but they later accepted three percent.

The government offered the lower rate on the grounds that the country’s economy, which was hard hit by the economic crisis, could not sustain a larger increase.

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