BONELA Calls for Employee-Friendly Laws as World Commemorates Labour Day

30 April 2010:
BONELA Calls for Employee-Friendly Laws as World Commemorates Labour Day

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) joins the public in commemorating Labour Day in celebration of the contribution that workers make as the backbone of many economies worldwide.

It is the hope of BONELA that the Government of Botswana will honour the contribution of these hardworking individuals with the commencement of the Public Service Act of 2008 and enactment of an HIV Employment Act. The Public Service Act in particular is remarkable in the sense that job seekers are also protected from discrimination as their HIV status will not be used as a basis for discrimination.

The Director of BONELA, Mr. Uyapo Ndadi, said the Act also extends to the protection of non-citizens who are presently subjected to pre-employment HIV testing as a pre-condition for employment in that those who are found to be HIV positive are denied employment in the public service. He said: “It can not be denied that this practice is discriminatory and BONELA is happy that the government has acknowledged it. He added that this provision of the Act is a move in the right direction and will certainly improve Botswana’s human rights standing.”

He added that the Act is also commendable as it deals with employees who have the propensity to disclose confidential information of other employees, including HIV status, as the culprits or perpetrators will be liable to a fine not exceeding P500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both through Section 63 (1).

Ndadi however laments that “the Public Service Act has inherent limitations as it only applies to public service servants and excludes private sector employees who are in the majority of cases victims of wanton abuse, prejudice and discrimination in the workplace because of their actual or presumed HIV positive status. This gap therefore needs to be plugged by amending our Employment Act to be consistent with the new Public Service Act. In this regard, BONELA shall therefore continue steadfastly with its HIV Employment Law Campaign. Our approach now is to engage back benchers in parliament to introduce a Private Member’s Bill on the law”

In a related matter, the Director of BONELA took the upcoming Labour Day commemorations as an opportunity to condemn the dismissal of top officials in government without hearings and without reasons being advanced for their dismissal as this flies in the face of good and fair labour practices.