The Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) in collaboration with the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU), Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSO) and Government as the Public Sector employer held a Joint Union / Management Interest Based Negotiation workshop. The workshop ran from 3- 4 December, 2012 and it was facilitated by an external Industrial Relations expert, Mr. John Brand.
John has over the past twenty years arbitrated and mediated large commercial and employment disputes. He was a member of the International Labour Organisation’s team of international experts appointed to design mediation training for developing countries.
The hosting of the event is in keeping with the objective of the BNPC to deliver on one of the critical aspects of the Centre’s strategic plan that has identified Labour Relations as a priority area. The BNPC Act of 1993 mandates the Centre to promote and foster good labour management relations in all sectors of the economy for enhanced productivity.
It also brought Management and Trade Union parties together to interrogate how the country’s changing industrial relations environment can be harnessed to promote a mutual gain and trust. The intervention comes at a time when a lot has been happening in the country in terms of the relationship between management and the unions in the public sector.
In particular, the year 2011 was somewhat an unprecedented period in as far as Labour Relations is concerned in Botswana following the Public Sector Industrial Action which almost brought the entire economy to its knees.
This was given impetus by the 2010 implementation of the Public Service Act of 2008 which brought about a new dispensation and paradigm shift in the country’s Labour Relations environment by introducing changes that extended fundamental rights of workers to bargain as a collective that were hitherto unknown to them.
Furthermore, concerns arising from bodies such as the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the BNPC on the country’s competitiveness highlighting human resources factors as the main challenges also contributed to the need for BNPC to host the workshops.
The training aims to result in a situation in which the work environment in Botswana is aligned to Industrial Relations best practices and in keeping with International Labour Organisation’s Conventions to allow for a more flexible employment and greater participation of key parties to determine their destiny with Government’s role being limited and restricted to that of a referee and creating an enabling environment for an effective, robust and constructive IR Climate.