April 20, 2011

Government workers on strike

The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions launched a 10-day strike in April 18 to demand a 16 percent wage increase, against the government's offer of five percent. The strike began after the mediator between the five unions representing civil servants and the Directorate of Public Service Management gave the unions the go-ahead to strike. The government of President Ian Khama has not increased civil servants' salaries for the past three years. It is estimated that around 90.000 government workers out of a total of some 103.000 have been staying off the job.

Government media have in the meantime attracted criticism from several quarters for publicising a one-sided version of the historic public servants’ withdrawal of labour. The Daily News, BTV and Radio Botswana have been accused of providing a forum for top government to spread propaganda while snubbing union leaders and denying them the opportunity to present their side of the story. “The government should allow the public media to cover this lawful strike,” declared Wynter Mmolotsi, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Member of Parliament. He said government propaganda had left many people confused. “Many people, especially our parents whom are living in villages, do not know why public servants are striking; they only read and hear the opinion of the State President who government media give adequate coverage to attack you,” he said. (Mmegi Online/The Bostwana Gazette)

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