Socialist Worker

Botswana mass strike suspended - but some workers stay out

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2256

Unions have suspended the public sector strike in Botswana in southern Africa after eight weeks.

But some of the 90,000 workers were still on the picket lines on Monday morning. “How can we go back to work when some of our comrades that we started the strike with are now jobless? This is an insult,” one told the press.

The strike has seriously shaken the government, which has ruled for 45 years.

A union spokesperson said, “We shall announce the date of the resumption of the strike after holding a special congress.”

Picketing had become more confrontational after some strikers returned to work due to lack of money.

The government had broken off negotiations the previous week and sent in the paramilitary Special Support Group against the strikers.

The government originally offered a 5 percent pay rise—but only if the economic situation improved.

Last week unions offered to accept a guaranteed 3 percent rise if the more than 1,500 “essential” workers sacked during the dispute were reinstated. The government refused.

Its hard line was encouraged by the IMF, which stated at the height of the strike that Botswana should cut the cost of its public sector.

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Tue 14 Jun 2011, 18:17 BST
Issue No. 2256
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