At the national congress of the Botswana Teachers' Union (BTU) held from 5-9 Apr in Goodhope, the delegates voted to join forces with the public employees' union in order to persuade the government to implement the Public Services Act.
The congress was held under the theme of “People Solidarity against Poverty and Oppression” and was attended by about 1000 delegates.
The Public Services Act was adopted by the parliament and signed by President Khama in Dec 2008 and was expected to be implemented on 1 Apr 2009. The act will make all civil servants permanent and pensionable, and will bring the country's labour practices, job security and remuneration in line with international standards. It will introduce negotiation mechanisms and does away with the employer’s right to retire public employees at will. Under the act, all public employees, under local authorities and in central governments, will be under one employer. This means the Public Service Act will be supreme to other acts governing all professions within government, such as the teaching profession, as far as conditions of employment are concerned.
In his address to the participants, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen reiterated the importance of proper remuneration and acceptable working conditions for the teaching profession:
"Governments should understand that education is about children's right to learn and teachers' right to teach. You cannot expect teachers to teach without giving them the right pay and working conditions."
Mr Pule Ramabya was elected as BTU's new president with a new national executive board, taking over Mr Japhta Radibe who is retiring this year from the BTU leadership.