Gaborone – The Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parapublic Sectors (BOFEPUSU) has highlighted the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) in the education sector to protect teachers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to a joint press conference with the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) on Monday, BOFEPUSU general secretary Tobokani Rari said at least 24 teachers had lost their lives due to related complications. to COVID-19 in the past two months.
He said the statistics were recorded by unions in the education sector and corroborated by the Ministry of Basic Education.
Mr Rari said it was a sad reality that teachers as frontline workers did not have the ammunition needed to tackle the endemic coronavirus.
Teachers, he said, were working in a high-risk environment and, for this reason, should be fitted with PPE.
“PPE in the case of teachers, for example, we are not referring to the full suit, we are referring to the appropriate masks, gloves, disinfectants,” he said.
He said that according to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convection on Workplace Safety, any employer who required employees to work, subjecting them to risks and dangers, was responsible for protecting them.
Meanwhile, Mr Rari said unions had argued that since COVID-19 was an occupational risk, there was a need to provide for risk allocation, just like in countries like Zambia and Lesotho.
He explained that over time, public sector unions had urged the government to pay a hazard allowance to frontline workers.
On another issue, he said the labor movement encouraged workers to get vaccinated when deployed, as the Botswana Medical Regulatory Authority (BOMRA) reportedly assessed quality assurance beforehand.