The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is exploring other means after Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) disclosed last week that it is appealing a judgment issued by Industrial Court President Justice Tebogo Maruping.
The court ruling provides as thus; “The Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) verification report that confirmed that Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) meets the threshold and as such should continue being admitted into the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) is set aside.”
Commenting on the judgement following Maruping’s decision, BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said the ruling is bound to completely annihilate the reasons for the existence of trade unions, which effectively is the power to bargain and negotiate on behalf of their members.
“In view of the foregoing, BOFEPUSU and the four affiliate unions carefully considered the judgement with a view of mapping a way forward. In doing so particular attention was given to the fact that they are two available options, of either resorting to the mediation process as suggested by the court at paragraph 55 (8) or exercising our right to appeal,” said Rari.
He added that “a decision was arrived at that there are some fundamental points of law and fact that the court overlooked and as such BOFEPUSU and the four affiliates would appeal the judgement. Our view is that such misdirections are so grave that they cannot be left to pass without being challenged at the Court of Appeal.”
But this week, BOPEU President Andrew Motsamai said they noted with “deep regret that our friends at BOFEPUSU have noted an Appeal against the Judgement by the Honourable Judge President Tebogo Maruping on the 16th of March 2016. We find ourselves yet again pushed to a tight corner and hauled to court.”
He added that “As we understand the judgement by the Honourable Justice, it paved a way for dialogue between all trade unions in the public service irrespective of their size or political might. The Judgement was in our view a reminder that sometimes dialogue is the best way to resolve any disputes that may exist between people. It is this wisdom of the Honourable Justice that we hailed after the judgement was issued.”
According to Motsamai, BOFEPUSU’s desired outcome at the Court of Appeal will not provide the right solution for all but would instead leave parties like Botswana Nurses Union, Botswana Teachers Union, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union, Botswana Landboard and Local Authorities Workers Union and Trainers and Allied Workers Union in the lurch.
“It would be regrettable if these fellow comrades are shut out from the bargaining council with Manual Workers Union having the whole cake for themselves,” said Motsamai.
“It is rather sad and indeed painful that BOFEPUSU continues to play politics of exclusion. The Botswana we desire as a Republic should be founded on the basic principle of inclusiveness. A society that offers a fair chance to all. It is evident that BOFEPUSU wants to be seen as the King sovereign who is the only one worth of all the good things in life. It fails to recognize that it has a responsibility to protect even the weak in our society, something which we stand for.”
Motsamai said if BOFEPUSU is still committed to the principle of unity within the trade union movement, it would have given the court mandated mediation an opportunity to come to fruition.
“Whatever the court intended to achieve sadly has now been rendered stillborn. Whatever goodwill the Court had intended for our members and that of our fellow comrades has been cast to the dark bowels of hell, we will never get to experience the beauty of meaningful dialogue,” he said.
He added that it is important to note that “we are ready to go and sit at the mediation table with our fellow comrades to resolve all issues surrounding the constitution of the council. Our preparedness was motivated by the fact that we wanted salary negotiations to begin in earnest and at the most opportune moment possible.”
“We now find ourselves at the mercy of BOFEPUSU and its hunger for power. In our view it is this quest for absolute power that continues to blind them from objective and sensible judgement. We state categorically without any ounce of doubt, that the decision made by the Judge President was the most progressive decision ever. The wisdom behind the decision is beyond question.”