Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Grass Suffers When The Elephants Fight

And so with one announcement from the unions, the strike is over. At the end of last week, things got scary with people in Gaborone breaking windows of shops and public buildings. The unions felt things were getting out of hand and called for the strike to end and for the civil servants to go back to work this past Monday. They got none of their demands.

In the meanwhile, workers lost almost two months pay. Essential workers who were striking were dismissed. They've been told they can re-apply for their jobs, but it is not clear if they will be re-hired at the same place they left or will be considered new workers.

The cost to the public of this strike is hard to know but likely huge.

And what about the fighters? President Khama wins. He has pushed the labour movement in this country back to the dark ages. A place where his rich friends in and outside of the country will be pleased to find it. If reports in the private media are to be believed, the IMF had been advising him not to give in to the unions' demands. No surprise there.

The union leaders? They still have their jobs, never lost a thebe of their salary. Hopefully they learned a lesson about hubris. They got excited by the support they had during the first ten days of the strike, and, without planning for the outcomes, extended it indefinitely, to their detriment. One can wonder which worker will put their faith in them again?

In the end, like always, the ones most unable to withstand the pain, must be the ones that bear it completely.

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