Botswana Public Sector Workers Demonstrate
Botswana teachers are joining other public sector workers in a general strike for ten days, starting today
Almost 90% of public sector workers will be on strike including teachers in the Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Secodary Teachers Union (BOSETU). Inflation in Botswana is running at 27% - yet public sector workers have not had an increase for three years - making it almost impossible to manage on the available salaries. So far the government has offered 5%. Union leaders say that if the government does not come up with the increase demanded the ten day strike will be followed by a go-slow or a further nationwide strike.
Although Botswana is a potentially rich country with mineral wealth particularly in the form of diamonds, the majority of the people do not benefit - with 47% of the population living on less than a dollar a day. Botswana has one of the world's biggest gaps between rich and poor and there is 24% unemployment. Meanwhile the IMF's prescription to tackle these problems is more privatisation. As it proposes on its website: "Thus, going forward, a combination of a leaner public sector (one that would do more with less) and a more dynamic private sector are essential for increasing and sustaining growth in Botswana." Teachers and other public sector workers are now feeling the effects of this policy.