Monday, July 4, 2022

Another round of salary talks fail to make headway

The Government has rejected another proposal by the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) to increase salaries for 2014/15 using a pyramid style of adjusting salaries at a meeting held on August 20, The Telegraph learnt on Monday.

Information gathered so far indicates that the government could have yielded to the Union’s proposal before the end of September in a bid ‘to buy votes’ ahead of the General Elections scheduled for October 24; but its representatives “are yet to take orders from their superiors,” an insider said.

It is understood that the government is currently working on a strategy to make the Bargaining Council a white elephant.

“The refusal to consider the unions ‘proposals is part of the government’s calculated plans to make the Bargaining Council and the Public Service Unions irrelevant in so far as issues relating to conditions of services are concerned,” said the source.

The insider claims that the Botswana Government agreed to set up the Council as it was just complying with International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards but the leadership believes that such a secretariat is a waste of resources since a salary increase announcement should be made by the President in an attempt to endear the voters and make the policies of the current regime relevant,” the source said.

The Government and the Union contributed P4 million each to set up the Council which is currently operational and housed at the Botswana Bureau of Standards offices.

The source said details of how the government intends to turn the Council into a white elephant are expected to emerge before the end of September.

Another insider told The Telegraph that, “We have had three rounds of negotiations so far, but there remains a big gap between us.”

In what is seen as a delaying tactic to make the Bargaining Council irrelevant, the government representatives are said to have also insisted that Government has already increased salaries for the year under review by four percent. The unions advocated for the pyramid style approach and review of conditions of service.

Bargaining Council’s secretary Patla Ulaula confirmed that the Council convened on the 20 August 2014, exclusively to deal with various matters relating to its operational policies and management issues among others.”

However, Ulaula said salary negotiations for the year under review were neither part of the agenda of the foresaid meeting nor the next Council meeting scheduled for September 25.

But when pressed for further details, Ulaula conceded that the Council’s Chairman Modiri Mbaakanyi “convened a closed meeting of parties to the Council to discuss pertinent issues pertaining to salary negotiations. Hoverer, the details of what was discussed in that closed meeting cannot be divulged to the media for public consumption as the matter is still being considered by the Council.”

He said the Council has not appointed any mediator to deal with any labour dispute between the Employer and admitted Trade Unions to the Council, including salary negotiations for the current financial year.

“However, part-time, mediators/arbitrators are appointed by the Council from time to time to resolve grievances referred by public service employees to the Council in accordance with the provision of section 43(1) of the Public Service Act,” said Ulaula.
When asked to comment on proposals brought forward by the parties at the meeting, Ulaula said, “We are unable to comment on this matter as parties have not reached a deadlock and therefore we cannot pre-empt the final outcome of the salary negotiations for the year under review.”

A statutory body established in terms of the Public Service Act of 2008, the Bargaining Council, whose mandate is to advise government on the remuneration of civil servants, comprises of representatives from public service unions and government departments and Ministries.

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