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Public servants salaries hiked by 3%

President Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama’ s administration has unilaterally increased salaries of Public Servants by 3% effective 1st of April 2016. The increment comes notwithstanding that currently Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) has appealed an Industrial Court ruling which was in favour of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) that barred them from sitting and continuing in the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).

According to Public Service Management Directive No.4 of 2016 adjustment of salaries “addressees are informed that government has decided a salary increase of 3% across board. This increase of the public service includes members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police, Prisons Service and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).”

Since the matter is still at the Court of Appeal and therefore has rendered the Bargaining Council dysfunctional – Council has since halted business – pending finalization of the dispute.

“It is really surprising that when the matter is still at the courts of law, the government takes this decision to increase salaries of public servants which is mandate of the PSBC,” BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari told WeekendPost.

That government has implemented the 3% without regard to court process, he said goes to show that the Executive undermines the Judiciary. “This means that the Executive is somehow pre-empting what the judiciary will implement and so this is undermining and interference to the Judiciary.”

He told this publication that by by-passing PSBC, “the government has defied both the provisions of Public Service Act on duties of PSBC, and, Justice Michael Leburu’s judgement that nobody has the right to interfere on duties of PSBC on salary and Conditions of Service.”

According to Rari, the Industrial Court judgement by Judge Tebogo Maruping has declared that salary negotiations should not continue. “PSBC should decide on salary increment and currently the courts have a case and should adjudicate on it.”

Rari insisted that right now there is nothing at PSBC because the matter is still at the courts. Until we find out if PSBC has been dismantled by the CoA that’s when this unilateral increment could have been the right decision, he said. “Let’s say PSBC has been dismantled, then that’s when government has powers to increase. In that case it’s okay, but we are not at that stage yet.”

“The question is, what if the case can restore BOFEPUSU in case CoA Judges agree with us and what is going to happen next if government awarded this 3%?” Rari asked rhetorically.

Rari remembered that it is not the first time that Khama unilaterally announced the government workers salary increment at the expense of the Bargaining Council despite Justice Leburu’s previous rulings.

“Judge Leburu ruled that Parliament has given an entity established through a Parliament Act to decide on salary increases and conditions of service. If you remember the government’s argument was that if the salary negotiations take long and the President has powers to increase salaries of workers willy-nilly, and Justice Leburu cautioned that they will be preaching statutes and rendering the Bargaining Council powerless, and there will be two centres of power,” he said.

Meanwhile the unionist concluded that the public will make their own conclusions of whether BOPEU may be conniving with the government on the case they launched at the Industrial Court which ended up delaying and, later appealed at the CoA in which a one-sided decision was taken to bypass the temporarily dysfunctional Bargaining Council.

“Public and Workers should look at the turn of events from the beginning to now. As for me I reserve my comment.”

For his part, BOPEU President, Andrew Motsamai admitted that the PSBC is currently in limbo owing to their in-fighting as unions.

“We hope that our issues will be resolved because it’s the Bargaining Council that could have negotiated instead of government,” he pointed out.

Motsamai highlighted to WeekendPost that they could be raising the issue of whether it was procedural or not for President Khama to increase government employees’ salaries only if they had a functioning PSBC.

“I cannot say if it’s legal or not, and whether it’s wrong or not as employees expect an increase even though PSBC is in limbo,” he justified. “What is it that the employer is supposed to do when the PSBC is not functional?” he asked.

BOPEU president said he hopes that going forward they will be able solve their issues to make employees happy.

When commenting on the 3% increment, Motsamai stated that it’s disappointing as the workers deserve more than that. “We are not happy with 3% but if employees have something its better – while we are sorting out our issues.”

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