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Home » News » General » Gov’t refuses to Bargain – BOFEPUSU

Gov’t refuses to Bargain – BOFEPUSU

Publishing Date : 15 August, 2017

Author : THABO BAGWASI

The Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has accused Government of refusing to go back to the bargaining table following a series of court battles.


On the other hand Government and the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has accused, at court, the BOFEPUSU A.J.A of having not complied with Constitution of Public Service Bargaining Council (P.S.B.C) by not submitting membership numbers. As a result of the alleged non-compliance Government is also refusing to BOFEPUSU’s decision to accept a 3% salary increase offered by the employer last year - at salary negotiations for 2016/17.


At last week’s PSBC meeting BOFEPUSU had indicated that they have complied with Constitution of P.S.B.C as they have submitted the requested membership names, and such evidence was consequently produced. Despite BOFEPUSU’s arguments the Employer party declined to continue with the negotiations indicating that there must be a specific item on the agenda discussing the matter of non-compliance.


Explaining how his Federation has attempted to bring normalcy to the bargaining process, BOFEPUSU deputy secretary general, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa wrote: “In return for purpose of settling issues, progress at Bargaining Council, stability in civil service, BOFEPUSU wrote to Bargaining Council Secretary General and the Employer that there be a meeting to deal with the said allegations, a meeting at which BOFEPUSU will indicate clearly that they have complied.

 

This BOFEPUSU did to heed to the concerns and demands of Government. Surprisingly and shockingly now Government is refusing to go back to the Council for purpose of that meeting and item, and they are now saying the Permanent Secretaries and Directors who represent them at Council are busy. This is not truthful because Government representatives at Council are eight (8) and each have an alternative to attend when the substantive is not around. It is clear that Government does not want Bargaining Council to function, does not want negotiations and Collective Bargaining in Botswana. Government have many permanent secretaries and Directors to represent her.”


He said BOFEPUSU will announce a way forward on Monday should government hold on to its hard line stance of refusing to come to the bargaining table. “We encourage workers to remain strong and courageous because we are in the final stages of claiming the so much fought for victory,” he added. Meanwhile judgement has been reserved in a matter of where the Botswana Public Sector Union (BOPEU) had asked the Court of Appeal for a Stay of Execution of the Motswagole J judgement, ruling has been reserved following passionate submissions from representatives of the two parties, Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) was represented by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Advocate Duma Boko while BOPEU was represented by Martin Dingake.

 

BOFEPUSU says it is protecting the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and the recognised bargaining process while BOPEU says it wants to protect the salaries of civil servants who were awarded 3 percent last year. According to Motshegwa, the motive and consequences of application of BOPEU and Government is destruction of Bargaining Council and giving Government absolute power over workers and rendering Trade Unions irrelevant. He said this is a great attack on Industrial Democracy and human rights.


HOW THE PARTIES GOT HERE


In October 2015, the Trade Union party BOFEPUSU A.J.A tabled a proposal of 13.5 % for purposes of 2016/17 salary negotiations. Government delayed to submit a counter proposal to Trade Union Party’s proposal. In April 2015, Government made a unilateral salary increment of 3 % outside the P.S.B.C. and the increment only awarded to non-unionised public servants. This brought sharp and deep divisions within the civil service.


The Trade Union party, BOFEPUSU approached High Court in an endeavour to protect the role and integrity of the P.S.B.C to ensure that it's functionality is entrenched. This was a path of principle to protect the Collective Bargaining power of workers, protect Trade Unions and Workers Rights. On the 2nd November 2016 Government tabled a 3 % proposal as counter proposal to the Trade Union party proposal for negotiations of 2016/17.


The meeting of 2016/17 salary negotiations started on the 8th November 2016, and adjourned when Government pulled out of the Bargaining Council indicating that they will not continue with negotiations when the scope of Bargaining Council is pending at Court. The Trade Unions tried without success to reason with Government representatives that the pending case does not imply stoppage of salary negotiations. Government representatives insisted on their rigid position and the negotiations stopped.


Judgment on the scope of Bargaining Council was delivered on 4th April 2017 where the Court declared the scope of Bargaining Council as that of all Public Servants and further setting aside the 3 % and 4% unilateral salary increment by Government which had violated the P.S.B.C. and Public Service Act. The Trade Union party wrote to the Chairperson of P.S.B.C requesting for convening of a continuation meeting of salary negotiations. The meeting was scheduled and subsequently held today 18th April 2017.


Motshegwa indicated that the Trade Union party pointed out that in the best interests of harmonious labour relations, peace and stability of the Country they would like to compromise and accept the 3% percent offer made by the employer.
“The employer then refused saying they don't agree that Trade Unions should accept the employer’s offer and they pulled out of the Bargaining Council.

 

The employer motivated a position held by BOPEU that BOFEPUSU should not be in the Bargaining Council, a position BOPEU lost at Court in Francistown. This is clearly indicative of acts of collusion between BOPEU and Government. Prior to the negotiations meeting, BOPEU had indicated that negotiations will not proceed, and at Bargaining Council Government representatives behaved the way BOPEU had stated,” he said.


 “The Minister of Presidential Affairs Eric Molale, Permanent Secretary to President Carter Morupisi have dismally failed the Public Service, have drastically failed the Nation and they are responsible for low productivity and division in the public service . They are great architects of instability in the Country due to their lack of leadership where they are required to provide it. In this scheming the D.P.S.M and Attorney General has been side-lined to the extent that now Government is using BOPEU lawyers and side-lining its own Attorney General. That means Government is paying twice, paying its own attorneys at Attorney General who are just spectators in these cases and paying BOPEU lawyers for service rendered to Government on consultancy.

 

It is clear that Government is trying to save BOPEU at the expense of the whole civil service and Trade Unions in Botswana. The question then is what has made BOPEU leadership and Minister of Presidential and P.S.P to unite towards destroying the civil service,” wrote Motshegwa in one of his posts on social media.


Motshegwa is of the view that BOFEPUSU has done all within its power to be reasonable, patriotic by compromising in the best interests of unity of civil service and stability of the Country. He called on Cabinet, BDP MPs, Councillors, structures to rise up as they are the ones in Government. He said if they (BDP) are not careful, the top civil servants who get paid even when they create this mess will cost them as a party and politicians because it is now clear in the eyes that ours is a stubborn, ruthless and unrepentant Government.

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