Sub-regional Workshop on Social Dialogue in the Public Service

A Sub-regional Workshop on Social Dialogue in the Public Service was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in March 2009. Government and public administration union representatives from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe participated, whilst South Africa was represented only by government. Each country presented a paper on social dialogue and labour relations in the national public service. Speakers made presentations on social dialogue; the experience of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) of South Africa; comparative social dialogue practices in the private sector in countries in the sub-region; policy challenges facing the public service; and International Comparative Public Service Labour Relations.
Participants discussed in groups the national deficits relating to freedom of association, collective bargaining, machineries for consultation or negotiations, dispute settlement and gender equality in the public service. They reported that the main challenges were ratifying and implementing Conventions; strengthening political will, training and sensitization on the part of both governments and unions to implement social dialogue policies and culture; improving funding; and amending high membership thresholds for unions to be recognised. The participants committed to updating employment information, determine capacity building needs in each country, and analyse the steps necessary towards ratifying the Labour Relations (Public Services) Convention (No. 151) 1978. As follow-up to this activity, the Sectoral Activities Department specialist joined the Harare Subregional Office in a Sensitisation Workshop on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in the Public Service, held with high-level officials from government ministries in Gaborone, Botswana, in May 2009.