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BOFEPUSU resolves to go for ‘special congress’

Publishing Date : 04 January, 2017

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

The Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPPPUSU) will hold a “special congress” to consult members on the much-talked about 3% that was not awarded to its affiliates.


The union federation, through the High Court, interdicted the awarding of the 3% to “all” government employees but court could only accede to interdict the increment to only its members (BOFEPUSU). The contentious development was reached following government’s resolution to grant the 3% increment to public servants in April last year (2015). The increment was provided by the President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s administration - outside the ambit of the Bargaining Council.


It is understood that the move has since created a rift, acrimony and hostility between BOFEPPPUSU members who on one hand are not awarded the increment and non-BOFEPPPUSU members as well as the non-unionised who were provided with the increment. Weekend Post understands that the bone of contention advanced by the union federation is focused on the fight for the independence of the Public Servants Bargaining Council and to ensure that the bargaining power is not eroded. If anything, and to ensure the power remains, BOFEPPPUSU says it remains ready to forfeit the 3% increment.


Last week, the union dealt a heavy blow at the High Court as the presiding Acting Judge Godfrey Radijeng ruled that the matter in which they wanted to instruct government to go back to the salary negotiations is “not urgent.” Although he did not go into the merits of his judgement delivery, it is strongly believed that a similar matter seeking for the “scope of the PSBC” currently before Justice Tshepo Motswagole of the High Court - due for next year February - may have triggered the judgement.


This publication has gathered that the federation leadership met over the weekend following the judgement and arrived at a decision to the effect that: “there is need to thoroughly brief and consult members” on the matter and that “there will be a special congress for the federation on 17th December 2016.”
It is understood that following the Special Congress, there shall be thorough consultation with the structures during the 1st and the 2nd weeks of January 2017.


Speaking to Weekend Post this week Secretary General of BOFEPPPUSU, Tobokani Rari confirmed that indeed the federation is undertaking a special congress this weekend. “Yes, leadership met over the weekend and took a decision to undertake a special congress to brief leaders of structures of various unions affiliated to BOFEPPPUSU to brief them out on the outcome of the court case which sought to instruct government back to the salary talks and the ruling’s implications as well as way forward,” Rari told this publication.


Rari stated that the purpose of the special congress is primarily for the union leadership to report what transpired at the salary negotiations table particularly with regard to the contentious 3% increment and the recent court cases. The unionist emphasized the need and importance of getting a mandate from the members on critical issues that they are facing. “We now need to go back to them to get a fresh mandate,” he said boldly as the union is continuing to face countless battles at court.


According to Rari, initially the members have given them a go-ahead and legitimate mandate to ignore the 3% salary raise and instead ordered them to channel their energies on fighting for the “bargaining power” to avoid future repeating’s of the unilateral increments prone to government. “If the BOFEPPPUSU members also want the 3% provocative salary rise – although awarded outside PSBC – they should say so as well. If they also want to protect and preserve the power and integrity of the Bargaining Council they should point that as well at the special congress and we will implement the mandate as is. We are simply servants of the union members.”


The BOFEPPPUSU SG insisted that the Trade Unions are run by mandates from the people and therefore the members should do the talking and leadership only implements their (members) aspirations. The special congress will be attended by members of the Executive, chairpersons of regions and branches from the affiliate members.


BOFEPPPUSU affiliates include Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Central, Local & Parastatal Manual Workers Union (NACLPMWU).
Union federation to appeal recent judgement to force gov’t back to the salary talks


Rari said they have resolved to appeal the case in which they sought to instruct government parties to come back at the PSBC to continue negotiating for the public servants salary increase and conditions of service. He also pointed out that the federation, having met its lawyers in which they had lengthy discussions about legal possibilities; consequently the leadership ended up with an informed decision and resolved to appeal the matter. The BOFEPPPUSU SG said the notice of appeal has been registered with the Court of Appeal on Wednesday to start with the process of appealing.


“We have absolutely nothing to lose by appealing the matter. If the Court of Appeal does not uphold the High court ruling we will continue negotiating the salaries. If we lose the appeal we will have to remain with the predicament of waiting for case before Justice Motswagole on scope next year February,” he said.


He also added that if members at the special congress agree that the members be awarded the 3% then it won’t stop the bargaining process for salaries of 2016/17 that are also pending.  
 “The appeal will still remain relevant,” Rari maintained.

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