Wednesday, July 24, 2024

BOPEU steals millions from members?

The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has been caught out in a wage theft scandal after illegally deducting millions of Pula from its members, documents show.

BOPEU which prides itself as the ‘union of choice’ instructed government to deduct P70 from each of its estimated 37000 members’ salaries for the Group Life Assurance policy. This translates into more than P2.5 million per a month.

It has however emerged that the union deducted the amount from its members without their authorization.

Angry union members have made a written petition to the union’s leadership demanding their money back. Some members have also written individual letters to the union indicating that they never consented to the deductions from their salaries.

The documents, which have been passed to the Sunday Standard show that the union had instructed the government payroll to deduct funds from the union members’ salaries without their consent. The concerned members indicated that they had never appended their signature instructing the union to authorize the government payroll to deduct P70 from their salaries.

The aggrived members pointed out that BOPEU’s actions were in violation of the Non-Banking Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) regulations. 

They called on BOPEU to “stop with immediate effect” from authorizing the government payroll from making deductions and also demanded that they be refunded their money. 

A copy of the petition seen by Sunday Standard states that; “It has come to our attention that you have instructed Government Payroll to deduct funds amounting to seventy pula (P70) from our salaries without our consent.”

The petition adds that; “We have never signed any documents to that effect, which clearly means we have not purchased the above-mentioned policy as per the dictates of Non-Banking Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) policy holder protection rules.”

The petitioners said since they had not consented in any way with the “above mentioned deduction, please note that we demand that you stop instructing Government Payroll from performing such deductions on your behalf.”

The Union members also stated that: “Kindly note that we demand that you refund us all the monies you received with immediate effect.”

“We would gladly appreciate a response from your honorable office within 5 days of receipt of this correspondence, believing this will not pressure us to sour our long-standing harmonious relationship,” they said.

Replying to the members’ complaints, BOPEU acting secretary general Ketlhapeleng Karabo said “Your request is noted.”

“We however seek to enquire from you if the Union must also stop the Group Funeral Scheme (GFS), which is the same package with the Group Life Assurance (GLA). Please provide the requested clarity in order to enable us to implement your instruction,” said Karabo.

Contacted for comment by Sunday Standard, Karabo said the Union negotiates different packages and schemes for its members and negotiates on the basis of its numeral strength in order to secure discounts and less interest rates for members.

“These schemes include but not limited to the following; Group Life Assurance (GLA); Group Funeral Scheme (GFS); Property Insurance; Funeral and burial packages; Personal loans at selected banks; Building materials scheme; Airtime etc,” he said.

To the best of our knowledge, members of the Union did not consent to the above-mentioned packages and schemes to commence and prior to benefiting from such packages. In our earnest and considered view, the Group Life Assurance was a scheme negotiated for the sole benefit of members and their immediate family.

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