The PSBC was convened on 18th April 2017 at 1400hrs at the Botswana Bureau of Standards. The purpose of the special meeting was to continue with the negotiations of the Public service salaries and other conditions of service for the financial year 2016/17.
Trade Union Party to the PSBC (BOFEPUSU AJA) Compromises
At this meeting, the union party, just from the beginning, extended its hand to the employer party that it (Union party) accepts the 3% that the employer party tabled on 2nd November 2016. The BOFEPUSU AJA further indicated that as a consequence of the gesture to compromise and accept the 3%, the council should not waste time and deliberate on each and every item on agenda.
The BOFEPUSU AJA compromised to accept the 3% in view of the fact that the public service is currently deeply divided and polarized owing to differential treatment with the 3% issue, and as such, it (Union party) endeavors to act in the interest of the nation to bring harmony, peace, stability and sanity within the public Service.
Employer Party refuses to embrace the compromise
The Employer party on the other hand, could not embrace the acceptance of the 3% by the Union party, but instead wanted the agenda to be changed to include an item on the compliance to the PSBC constitution. Though the Union party was not averse to the discussion of the item, it indicated that the item could not be accepted owing to the fact that the meeting was special and specifically convened to continue the discussions on the 2016/17 Salary Negotiations and as such a council meeting to deal with issues of compliance can be convened at any time.
The Trade Union Party further reasoned that even if the there was no compliance on the part of the Trade Union party, which is not the case, the procedure would have to be followed for the council to arrive at a decision that its (Trade Union Party) membership of the PSBC should be terminated, hence refusing to execute the PSBC duties is tantamount to closing the council.
The Trade Union Party further clarified that until Council has made such a decision, any party to the Council remains legitimately admitted and the Council remains competent to transact the business of the Council in all matters including among others matters of salary negotiations.
The employer party stuck to its guns and indicated that they would not continue with the salary negotiation meeting if the issue of compliance is not dealt with and would only return to a negotiation table if the membership audit for the Trade Union party has been carried out. The employer party decided to abandon the talks on the basis that the union party should be audited first whilst knowing quite well that the union party was audited just in October 2016.
13. The federation leadership has been in discussion with its attorneys to map a way forward with respect to this bizarre conduct by the employer party with a view to ponder on the prospects to litigate.
14. Meanwhile, as reiterated elsewhere in this release, the Trade Union Party, BOFEPUSU AJA, has submitted its audited numbers and expects that the secretariat would commence its audit.
Appeal of Justice Motswagole's Judgment and Application of Stay of Execution of the same
15. Meanwhile, it has to be noted that BOPEU and Government, acting in cohorts have appealed the judgment in which the High Court held that the scope of the PSBC covers all public servants including the non – unionized, members of management and the unionized who are outside the PSBC.
16. The purpose of the appeal and the consequent application for stay of execution is to have the scope of the PSBC restricted only to public servants whose unions are admitted to the PSBC, and as a result, paving way for Government to continue to award the 3% and 4% only to public servants whose Unions are Non – BOFEPUSU affiliates.
17. This explains the conduct of Government of refusing to negotiate under the pretext of non – compliance to the PSBC constitution. They (Government) hope that the court would grant them a stay and then continue awarding a 3% and a 4% to the non – unionized and those whose unions are outside PSBC hence attempting to put BO
18. The conduct of government is a carefully orchestrated plan carried out in conjunction with BOPEU to frustrate and attempt to dismantle the Bargaining Council. This matter of compliance is the one that BOPEU took to court but could not succeed on it and now it is being picked by Government in the council.
19. It has to be recalled that the General Secretary of BOPEU Mr. Topias Marenga went public that the PSBC meeting would not discuss salary negotiations, but rather would only discuss the issue of compliance. True to his word the employer insisted that the issue of compliance should be part of the meeting's agenda and should be discussed first. This goes a long way to show how BOPEU has become part of the bigger scheme in defeating the bargaining principle in this country.
The Stay of Execution of the Motswagole’s judgment case was heard on 21st and 22nd April 2017. Justice Gaongalelwe, having heard the parties, reserved the judgment to what he said would be "soon". We are convinced that we had filed a very good defense and our lawyers did their best. It remains with the honourable judge to adjudicate. We remain optimistic that the judgment would come in our favour. We would like to thank very much all the wokers from the BOFEPUSU affiliated unions, workers in general and for having thronged the court in large numbers. We as usually appeal for your patience as we traverse this rather difficult path. We remain convinced that we are fighting a good course and shall very soon clear the path.
Appeal for Patience from the General Membership
Once more we appeal to the General membership to remain focused and trusting bearing in mind that this is just a small fight within a bigger war which the workers of this country would ultimately win. We should stick to the conviction that workers of this country shall not be defeated. We appeal once more for your patience Comrades as we go through these rather delaying hurdles.
Tobokani Nicholas Rari is BOSETU Secretary General
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