Despite the court order by the Industrial High Court delivered last week for the essential service employees to resume duty, the Chairperson of the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSO) Francistown Branch, Time Moupo, told the Sunday Standard in an interview on Friday that they are busy mobilizing essential service workers in Francistown and the surrounding areas to join the strike.
Moupi rubbished the court order saying that the Union will not honour it as it was delivered under questionable circumstances.
“As I am speaking to you right now, about 200 essential service workers in Francistown are continuing with the strike and we will give them full support,” he said.
He added that they went to different government departments, including schools, clinics and hospitals, encouraging the workers to join the strike.
Moupo added that there was never any violence or threats imposed by the unions on those workers on duty.
Among the essential service workers who took part in the strike last week, were about 40 doctors and a high number of health workers from Nyangabwe Hospital. Different clinics in Francistown carried on with the strike.
Moupo went on to say that they will not be threatened by the court order as they perceive it as bogus and lacking credibility because it was delivered verbally with not even a single document
However, the Interim Spokesperson of the Doctors Association at Nyangabwe Referral Hospital, also anonymously, told the Sunday Standard last week that the Doctors at Nyangabwe Referral Hospitals will forge on with the strike even if it means being sacked from their jobs.
“Apart from the 16 percent salary increment that the Union is seeking from the government, doctors exclusively have other serious grievances, especially with the conditions of service in hospitals, which impacts on our service delivery,” he added.
The spokesperson said that immediately after the tussle between BOFEPUSO and the government, the Doctors Association will now challenge the government to urgently consider the condition of service within the health service. He said that they have long voiced their concerns to the Ministry of Health, but they have always hit a snag.
“We came back from countries abroad to work for our country because we are proud to be Batswana and wanted to give back to our nation, but if the government continues to treat us the way it does we can always look for greener pastures elsewhere,” he warned.
He added that it is sad to realize that due to poor conditions of service in hospitals, some of the patients usually lose their lives, which then negates the image of their profession as doctors.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing government in the on-going legal wrangle with public service unions are not contemplating laying contempt of court charges against the unions’ leadership on the back of the non-compliance of the recent industrial court order directing essential services employees to return to work, says Lawrence Khupe, a partner at Collins Newman law firm.