Civil servants in Botswana have now been on strike for eight weeks. Yesterday the government confirmed that the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU - which may be the worst acronym ever!) agreed to suspend the strike. Workers will now return to work, at least pending a special union congress on June 25th. Essential services workers who were fired after ignoring a court order to return to work are also being allowed to reapply for their positions.
Botswana has long been held up as the example of an African State run right but some commentators have suggested that this strike - the first major industrial action since changes to labour-union regulations - might demonstrate deeper cracks in the system, particularly under the current President. Others have highlighted the devastating impact of extended strike action by public servants, particularly for the poor. As with public sector strikes in recent years in South Africa, the potential devastation of the public, protracted clash of worker and government interests is all too clear. I wonder if there really is a better way of doing things?