The bitterness and anger which is palpable in the public sector workers might trigger yet another industrial strike after attempts to negotiate with the employer earlier this year over salary increments failed to materialize.
“A possibility of another strike cannot be ruled out because the mood with the people is that ‘we can commence’,” said Masego Mogwera, the president for the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU). Just last week, BOFEPUSU commemorated its first anniversary of the national public sector strike at the Gaborone Senior Secondary School (GSSS) grounds.
“Right now we can’t tell as of when the strike might start; it will depend on the people,” she said.
Mogwera said the employees have been angered by the employer’s refusal to negotiate for the 2012/2013 salary increment and have condemned that in strong terms.
“We have since declared a dispute with the employer; we demand that DPSM come to the table for the 2012/2013 salary negotiations to commence,” said Mogwera. “The outcome of this hearing on 30 April 2012 will determine the way forward.”
BOFEPUSU has since handed over a petition to the DPSM director, Carter Morupisi, against the declining human and trade union rights in Botswana. BOFEPUSU registers its displeasure of the harsh and repressive working conditions extended to 2415 re-employed workers.
“We demand immediate reinstatement of the dismissed workers and removal of the unbearable working conditions,” the petition stated.
Mogwera said BOFEPUSU will on 16 May commemorate the sacked workers from last year’s strike. The final hearing of the sacked workers case is slated for 9th of May. However, Mogwera said whatever the outcome, commemorations will be held.
The petition bemoaned the segregation of unions, saying trade unions continue to be silenced and bashed by the employer and his representatives, violations of the International Labour Organizations of which Botswana is signatory to.
The essentialisation of the whole public service sector with a sole objective of making industrial actions non effective has been condemned.
“We demand reversal of essentialisation of the teaching, veterinary and diamond sorting services,” stated Mogwera. “It is not in the interests of the country nor is it sustainable in the long run.”
Approximately 393 dismissed workers remain in the streets, unemployed without a wage to date.
BOFEPUSU has demanded the immediate commissioning of a Public Service Bargaining Council. “It will never be in the interest of the public service for one party within the labour relations to dictate to the other on processes and limits,” she said. “The fact that the education sector in this era is still in discussions over basic and elementary workplace issues such as hours of work, levels of operation, teachers leave days and invigilation of examinations can no longer be tolerated.”
The DPSM was encouraged to assume a leadership role in solving education sector issues.