Government has succeeded in collapsing the Public Serviced Bargaining Council (PSBC) but still finds itself having to sit around the bargaining table with the manual workers union as the union exposed the triumph by government as a Pyrrhic victory.
Sunday Standard has turned up information showing how the Manual Workers Union has pulled the rug from under the government’s feet over collective bargaining as it has a historical agreement to negotiate for salary increment with the employer outside the scope of the bargaining council.
According to documents passed to this publication, matters came to a head after Director of Public Service Management, Ruth Maphorisa wrote to BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari informing him that the federation does not have any recognition agreement with the employer.
In a letter dated 9th August 2017, Maphorisa also informed Rari that Manual Worker Union, BOSETU, BTU and BLLAWU in their separate and individual capacities are each duly recognized Public Service Unions. “They enjoy organizational rights and have recognition agreements with the employer.
Kindly advise your members to communicate directly with the employer in their individual capacities and that any discussions pertaining to Public Employees who are their members are conducted directly between each of the unions and the employer or at the Public Service bargaining Council (if such union is a member of the Council).
Accordingly there is no basis for the Director to meet with you on this basis. BOFEPUSU had written to Maphorisa requesting for a meeting to discuss payment of arrears of salary increment for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
In another letter addressed to various government departments, Maphorisa informed them that the only trade union party of the PSBC acting jointly terminated its membership to the PSBC by resolution passed by the PSCBC on 23 May 2017.
Therefore, Maphorisa advised government departments not to refer or attend mediation and arbitration cases before the Public Service bargaining Council.
Responding to Maphorisa’s letter, Manual Workers Union Secretary General, Johnson Motshwarakgole, in a letter dated 18 August 2017 stated that “pursuant to the Collective labor Agreement between the National Amalgamated Local Central government & Parastatal Workers Union and the Government, we request a meeting to discuss the 2018/2019 wage increment,” among other issues.
Motshwarakgole also informed Maphorisa that they intend to discuss pension benefit of former industrial class workers as well as their medical aid benefit.
While Motshwarakgole had requested Maphorisa to “advice within 7 days of receipt hereof on a date and time that is suitable to you,” the Director was yet to respond to the union’s letter. Immediate comment from Maphorisa was not available at the time of going to press.
In a brief interview, Motshwarakgole confirmed that they have a collective labour agreement with the government which is protected by the Trade Union Dispute Act that was signed in 1975.
“We are going to negotiate with the employer for the 2018/19 salary increment,” he said.
According to Motshwarakgole, since Maphorisa confirmed in her correspondence with BOFEPUSU that unions affiliated to the federation were recognized by the employer on individual basis, they were eligible to negotiate with government for salary increment in that capacity.
Manual Workers Union Administrative Officer, Samuel Molaodi also confirmed that the agreement has never been cancelled or amended. “The government knows very well that we have this agreement in place,” he said. According to the agreement that the union signed with the government in 1975, the latter agreed to meet the representatives of the union from time to time for the purposes of discussing matters concerning the terms and conditions of employment (wages and salaries).