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BOPEU wants Bargaining Council disbanded

Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) attorney Dutch Leburu disclosed to the Court of Appeal this week that the union wants the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) dismantled. 

 
Leburu said this in relation to a matter in which government in cohorts with BOPEU is appealing Justice Tshepo Motswagole’s April ruling in which he nullified the unilateral decisions by government to award public servants 3% increment (and later 4%) outside the auspices of the Bargaining Council. The appeal came as a result of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) having approached High Court through an application seeking to set aside government’s decision which it argued was in breach of the PSBC as increments were not a decision of it (PSBC).

The move also led to BOFEPUSU withdrawing from the PSBC to allow for the court process to take course. When delivering his oral arguments on Thursday before CoA Judges; Justice(s) Ian Kirby (CoA President), Monametsi Gaongalelwe and Zibani Makhwade, Counsel Leburu said all unions should withdraw from the Bargaining Council and altogether, kill it. “All unions should withdraw from the PSBC,” Leburu said adding that “they should instead bargain through sector by sector.” According to Leburu, the PSBC only binds members of unions in it; that is members of trade unions admitted into the Bargaining Council at any given time.

“We submit that PSBC resolution doesn’t apply to all Civil Servants. It only tells us the space of which we can withdraw membership from,” Leburu said adding that “scope limits those who could be in the PSBC but are not.” The BOPEU attorney emphasised that “individualism applies and not collectives per se”. He further said that even under Acting Jointly Agreement (AJA), in the PSBC, it is made by the majority and that’s collective, which they don’t believe should be the case.

Leburu warned the CoA Judges against ruling not in his favour while stressing that all parties should withdraw from the PSBC and bargain with government individually. He said it is not proper that PSBC is the only sole authority of bargaining. After Leburu uttered the words, Justice Kirby then interjected to ask him whether it therefore would not be an incentive to rule in protection of PSBC so that unions who voluntarily withdraw affiliation can go back and keep the Council intact.

The lawyer insisted that still there would be a vacuum in the PSBC while continuously stressing to the Judges that they should consider the danger he is pointing out to them. According to Leburu, Justice Tshepo Motswagole of a lower court, High Court, was wrong in his findings. “He was wrong in finding that the Bargaining Council decisions applied to all members even those outside the unions admitted in the PSBC including BOPEU and that they should abide by the decisions.”

Leburu added that there was therefore nothing wrong in BOPEU accepting the 3% salary hike for its members as they were outside the PSBC and it did not stop PSBC from continuing negotiating further. He asserted that “absolutely nothing” could stop government from increasing salaries of public servants, whether in terms of common law or practice. On his part, BOFEPUSU lawyer, South African, Advocate Alec Freund started his oral submissions by emphasizing that Court of Appeal has the opportunity to settle the collapse of PSBC in its ruling of the matter. He asserted that PSBC is binding to all public servants, regardless of union membership.

According to Freund, who differed sharply with Leburu, when an agreement is concluded at the PSBC, it applies to every employee or public servant. “It’s one deal for all,” he said. He highlighted that when unions bargain in their individual capacities in the absence of the Bargaining Council, it is a very unpopular arrangement in an international juris-prudence. “It’s the worst possible system for the employer,” he told the Court of Appeal bench. The Advocate added: “it will be a tragedy if PSBC breaks down. PSBC should be brought to life. What was the purpose of establishing the Bargaining Council in the first place? We said it should be the forum that will establish useful notes.”

Salary increment for public officers, he said should be uniform while also pointing out that agreements concluded provide a uniform approach to all even those outside the PSBC and this is the industry way. “Bargaining is the duty to negotiate in good faith until impasse. Workers can exercise their powers through an industrial strike and, an employer can exercise his power also through unilateral action.” Advocate Freund maintained that salaries and conditions of service for public servants or increments should go through a process of bargaining at the established structure of the Bargaining Council.    

Meanwhile, an Attorney representing government, Advocate Tim Bruinders also from South Africa also said, while sharing the same sentiments with BOPEU, that when those admitted to the Bargaining Council talk about agreements they only bind themselves and not anybody else. He added that what mainly concerns government is that resolutions of the Council go to an extent of binding PSBC non-parties.   

“It doesn’t mean government cannot negotiate in good faith for other recognized unions outside the ambit of the Bargaining Council. Government doesn’t mind negotiating with many parties,” he said. Upon hearing both sides of the arguments, Justice Kirby leading the trio on the bench, in the matter that will set the record straight on the scope of the PSBC – reserved the judgement to a later date he said will be announced.

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BDP decides Balopi’s fate

22nd November 2021
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The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.

The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.

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BDF-Namibians shootings autopsy report revealed

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The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.

This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.

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Gov’t confused over Moitoi’s UN job application

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The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.

Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.

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