Tuesday, August 9, 2022

2011 strike haunts reinstated nurses

Nurses who engaged in the 2011 public sector employees strike are set to be passed over for promotion following a directive from the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry still remembers what the nurses did that summer. A savingram from Deputy Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tshepo Machacha made it unequivocally clear that the nurses who partook in the strike shall not benefit from the impending promotions.

“Eligible officers should not have participated in the 2011 strike and subsequently dismissed and reinstated,” says the savingram, listing the criteria to be followed when considering candidates for promotion.

Multitudes of nurses joined the 2011 Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) labour strike through their respective trade unions.

Many of them were dismissed from employment after refusing to return to work.

While some were subsequently reinstated President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised during the 2019 national elections campaigns to reinstate those left behind and made good on his word following elections. Masisi had been instrumental in the 2011 dismissals as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.

The recent decision by the Ministry of Health to sideline the nurses follows an August 6, 2021 Court order instructing that all officers who were disadvantaged by the failure to implement the Savingram dated 30th May 2007 on multiple titling and multiple grading system be upgraded and paid salary arrears in that regard. The order said the principle of parity was applicable and should be applied to all Public Service Employees, saying what other officers enjoyed who are in the same cadre, the rest should also enjoy. This followed a 2001 Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) Directive that was issued reducing the period of progression from one grade to another from 3 years to 2 years. 

A decision was taken through another DPSM Savingram in May 2007 that all positions at C-Band be multi titled and graded to effectively create a pool of posts at the C Band hence provide ministries flexibility in the recruitment and filling of these posts. 

Following the release of the 2007 Savingram the DPSM released another directive in 2008 allowing for direct appointment of graduates with the appropriate academic qualification and to facilitate fast progression of serving officers who qualify for promotion without the need for ministries to request for additional resources. 

Some Ministries fully or partially implemented the stated Directive whilst others did not. Consequently there were several court cases where employees in Ministries who had not implemented the Directives successfully sought the Courts intervention through their unions.

“In implementing the Court Judgment, the Accounting Officers are hereby instructed to maintain strict adherence of the laid out HR Practices pertaining to recruitment and promotion in the public service. Given the differences in individual progression, this exercise should be assessed on a case by case basis…This dispensation takes effect from 1st April 2008, but date of implementation will differ from individual to individual depending on the processes involved in recruitment and promotion,” DPSM directed in a subsequent savingram.  The Ministry has now ordered that nurses who took part in the 2011 industrial action not be promoted. 

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