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Union calls for national tourism council

03 Apr 2023

Botswana All Tourism Workers Union has submitted a proposal to the Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, for the formation of a National Tourism Council.

The union president, Mr Leboneng Omane revealed in a meeting held in Maun on Saturday that the envisaged council would lobby for the review of some tourism laws with the aim of building harmony between tourism workers and employers.

That, Mr Omane said, was motived by some concerns that had been raised by tourism workers about some tourism companies that threatened to fire employees if they joined trade unions.

He indicated that the union was registered in May last year following the COVID-19 outbreak, which had left many in the tourism industry on the dole.

“Many workers in the tourism sector have expressed fear of  joining the newly-formed union due to their employees’ disapproval. 

Even though some people have worked for over 20 years for certain companies they were retrenched and left empty- handed without any benefits because there was no union to back them up,” he said.

That, he said, was due to the fact that there were acts of misconduct in the industry, where companies mistreated workers to a point where some worked without contracts.

“The tourism industry is one of the most risky places to work in because we work in the bush surrounded by animals and our lives are in danger, but we don’t have insurance, risk allowances or any union to protect us,” he added.

Currently, he said the union had registered only 15 members while others who showed interest were followers, but fear got the better of them. 

He however debunked views that the union was formed to fight government and tourism companies, saying every industry in Botswana had a trade union to discuss, negotiate and protect their respective members.

Giving a word of encouragement, Botswana Guides Association (BOGA) chairperson, Mr Kenson Kgaga commended tourism workers for forming the association, which he said would assist them to amplify their voices in unison.

Mr Kgaga however encouraged members to desist from aligning their union with politics, saying that would cause divisions and lead to disagreements that would destroy it.

“Tourism is critical in the economic development of our country, hence this industry has to be protected by all means so that it doesn’t destroy the reputation of Botswana. 

I believe it starts with treating tourism workers right and letting them express themselves,” he said.

He indicated that there were international organisations that advocated protection of workers in any country.

“Therefore if there are allegations that there could be any mistreatment of workers in tourism, it would put Botswana in a bad light,” he added.

Mr Kgaga further encouraged them to continue recruiting more members and also seek funding from other organisations so that the union would grow.

He warned against misappropriation of funds saying such misconduct would destroy the union. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Portia Ikgopoleng

Location : Maun

Event : Meeting

Date : 03 Apr 2023