Following efforts of the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) to strengthen the collective bargaining between employer and employees of the public sector, the President of BOPEU, Andrew Motsamai, lashed at government for not taking the concerns of the Union seriously.
Motsamai was addressing BOPEU’s annual general convention on Tuesday in Francistown as he officially opened the convention, which was also attended by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Daniel Kwelagobe.
“Perhaps at this juncture I should indicate that as the Central Committee of BOPEU, we are deeply saddened by the seemingly lack of urgency on the part of the employer to capacitate and operationalize the collective bargaining structures for the public service,” he said.
He further highlighted the fact that the relationship between the Union and the government has become weak. He indicated that the government no longer takes BOPEU seriously and they have been given an attitude that is worrisome.
“For some reason, it appears they no longer take the union seriously and the latest condescending attitude is of great concern because in the final analysis, it has the potential to make us lose credibility amongst our electorates,” said Motsamai.
He projected on the March 2008 recognition agreement that was concluded between BOPEU and DPSM, which never came into existence. He mentioned that the signing ceremony of the agreement became a white elephant.
“By June this year, the employer reconvened another meeting session under the pretext that they were not happy with certain clauses in the agreement and for their indulgence, the union agreed to remove the offending clause from the agreement with the hope that such would speed the signing off the same,” said Motsamai.
He raised the concern that they have been disappointed by the Department of Public Service Management as it is slowly fading away from their union.
Motsamai highlighted that in June this year DPSM, BOPEU, and Manual Workers Union undertook a trip to cover the Mababe depression, expanding from Ngamiland to Chobe, to enlighten the DPSM about the problems faced by employees in that region, particularly the remote areas.
He also mentioned that it had been envisaged that the outcome of the trip would enlighten the employer in forming a positional response in a long standing dispute that employees in these remote areas should be paid subsistence allowance and decent accommodation.
Motsamai indicated that hitherto there has been no response.
He further reminded the members of the union about the recent meeting with President Ian Khama in a discussion of salaries between industrial class workers and their counterparts, saying that there was an agreement that their concerns would be looked at, but this failed and led to the punishing of those who complied with the presidential directive to opt out. He indicated that that there has been no concrete solution in the offing.
Motsamai addressed the pain, tribulations and challenges that they have encountered as members of the union for the last ten years relating to adequate houses and those who commuted daily to their workplaces. He commended the members for their remarkable resilience and their yearnings to continue to deliver service under such conditions.