Friday, September 30, 2022

BR Appeals Board finally constituted

The restructuring exercise appeals board at Botswana Railways has finally been constituted after management reluctantly agreed to the membership of the Botswana Railways Amalgamated Workers Union’s chairperson, Gaebepe Molaodi.

This board will hear and determine appeals related to the ongoing restructuring exercise. A few days ago, management would hear nothing of Molaodi becoming a member of this board because it felt that, having been notified about her own retrenchment, she would be conflicted. BRAWU held fast to its position and finally management caved in, telling the former last week in a letter: “Management has therefore taken a decision to allow Molaodi to be BRAWU’s representative in the Appeals Board albeit the reservations which thus far are known to BRAWU.”

While she had indicated desire to stay on as an employee, Molaodi was retrenched through the involuntary exit scheme that started in December last year. The appeals board being constituted will hear and determine grievances from employees who, like herself, having opted to remain as employees are instead required to leave BR employ. BR management had taken the position that Molaodi’s membership of the board would pose two problems.

“The first problem is that if she is going to lodge an appeal, then she cannot sit in the appeals board as she will be conflicted to do so. The second problem is that if she does not intend to appeal, it means that she accepts the position of BR to not remain in the employ of Botswana Railways and as such, she will cease to be an employee of Botswana Railways with effect from what would have been the last day to lodge an appeal.

This also means that she will not be eligible to hold membership of BRAWU,” states the human resources manager, Isaac Gaolekane, in a letter to BRAWU. The latter didn’t take kindly to the letter’s request that it should nominate someone else. The union’s position is that Molaodi can only be conflicted in said manner only when her own case is being heard.

“Only then will she recuse herself and BRAWU will be represented by Mr. Tsenang Bathu Nfila,” reads a letter by the latter who is the union’s general secretary. BR stuck to its guns, noting that Molaodi should recuse herself to avoid any potential for conflict of interest and that, for the sake of consistency, it would be undesirable to reconstitute board in instances when she has to recuse herself. Reacting to such concern, BRAWU said that who represents it on the board is its own (and not management’s) prerogative.

Then it sought to turn the tables on BR by stating that “management should rather be concerned about the conflict of interest that arises when the CEO, or any of his directors, is chairing the appeals board that is hearing appeals against his decisions.” The Appeals Board starts its work tomorrow and will hear Molaodi’s appeal on Tuesday.

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