The Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) is threatening to kick Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) out because the union has not complied with the council’s constitution.
The PSBC is a joint forum between government as the employers and recognised public service union tasked with negotiating, concluding and enforcing collective bargaining agreements.
PSBC Chairperson Pata Ulaula has written to BOFPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari giving the union up to April 24th to show cause why the union should not be expelled.
This comes in the wake of reports that BOFEPUSU has successfully interdicted Government from increasing all public servants (unionised and non-unionised) salaries outside the scope of the PSBC.
In a letter dated 3rd April 2017 addressed to Rari, Ulaula states that “we are concerned about the manner in which BOFEPUSU AJA, the admitted Trade Union party to the PSBC, is conducting itself towards the decisions of the Council and requirements of the Constitution of the Public Service Bargaining Council.”
“Your failure to submit audited membership figures for the previous year on or before 31st January 2017 is a contravention of the provision of the Article 8.1 of the PSBC Constitution. In addition, failure to settle your outstanding financial contributions towards the approved budget for the financial year 2015/16 is also contravention of Article of the PSBC Constitution,” said Ulaula.
He informed Rari that “We reminded you on several occasions to submit tem but in vain. Consequently, a report on your membership figures could not be prepared and submitted to the Council by the Secretary General within the constitutionally prescribed timeframe that is 31st March 2017.”
“Please note that membership of any admitted trade union party to the Council is dependent on its regular compliance to the provision of Article 8 of the PSBC. Therefore you can only consider yourself to be an admitted trade union party ‘in good standing’ in the Council if your membership figures have been determined and confirmed by the GS on annual basis, in accordance with the provision of Article 8.1 of the PSBC Constitution,” stated Ulaula.
Ulaula said presently BOFEPUSU membership figures have not been validated by the Council “to confirm that indeed you still meet the threshold requirement of the Council to continue being a duly admitted Trade Union Party to the Bargaining Council.”
He also accused the unions of failing to pay all their financial contributions before the end of the financial year 2015/16 that elapsed on the 31st March 2016.
The Government and BOFEPUSU have agreed that each party should pay P3.1 million as their contribution towards the activities of the PSBC effective 1st April 2015.
“…Your outstanding contributions of one million, three hundred and sixty-nine thousand, six hundred and seventy nine pula forty five there should have been paid to the Bargaining Council by the 28th November 2016,” stated Ulaula.
He warned that “In view of the above you are requested to make your presentation, in accordance with the provision of Article 11.2 of the PSBC Constitution, as to why the bargaining Council cannot consider termination of your membership on account of your failure to comply with the relevant provision of the PSBC Constitution.”
Ulaula has given Rari up to 24 April to have responded to the Council on the issues he raised.
Contacted for a comment, Rari confirmed “having received a letter from the GS of the PSBC claiming that we have not complied with some certain clauses of the constitution of the PSBC with respect submitting our audited numbers and have not yet finalised our final contributions.”
He said “As we have always indicated the war for entrenching bargaining in Botswana is far from over. You would realize that only this we were able achieve gigantic steps in protecting the PSBC in terms making it functional and this very week we received a letter which seems to suggest that we are not complaint, what an appropriate coincidence,” he said.
He said the PSBC has joined forces with government a sole purpose of fighting BOFEPUSU.
“We really disappointed that the Secretariat of the PSBC has joined fray. The Secretary General has no powers whatsoever in the constitution to write such a letter, if he had issues the best that he can do is bring such to attention of the Council,” said Rari.
He added that “So this is a typical and classic example of someone overstepping his mandate under pressure from third forces. On the issue of audited numbers, BOFEOUSU was audited by the PSBC immediately after the court of appeal judgement and the results of the audit came out in October.”
He said the constitution talks submission of audited numbers in December adding that would have been submitting numbers within a space one month from the release of the other audit outcome.
“These are the things that the PSBC would have discussed had it been meetings. That’s why we utterly surprised that the GS writes such a letter without having engaged the Council,” said Rari.
According to Rari, there is nowhere in the constitution of the PSBC where the union’s membership of the Council could be terminated on the basis of having not submitted audited numbers.
“The same goes to the issue of contributions; it’s not one of the reasons why a union could be terminated. But nonetheless, we will on Monday give the PSBC our audited numbers and also settle our contribution arrears,” he said.
He urged “the workers and public to remain calm once more” adding that “this is a perpetration of the known agenda of fighting BOFEPUSU and attempting to kill the PSBC and it is one those tactics that we would definitely defeat. We still remain the only admitted trade union party to the PSBC and there is no council resolution that has been taken that we are not members.”