Botswana forced to rehire 400 strikers

2012-06-22 22:25

Gaborone - A court in Botswana has forced the state to reinstate 400 civil servants fired last year after the biggest strike in the southern African country's history, a union official said on Friday.

In a ruling delivered late on Thursday, Judge Key Dingake also ordered the government to pay the workers back salaries amounting to 10 million pula ($1.26 million).

"We are happy that as per the ruling, workers will be going back to work in 14 days," said Goretetse Kekgonegile, the spokesperson for the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions.

In 2011, nearly 2 600 public service workers, including teachers, nurses and doctors, downed tools demanding a 16% salary hike, the first time civil servants had gone on strike in Botswana.

The two-month strike that started in April 2011 shut down schools and some clinics, while hospitals operated on skeleton staff.

It was called off when a majority of civil servants settled for a 3%  increase. They were rehired but a group of 400 held out to demand a higher raise and were fired after defying a court order to return to work.