Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BURS blocked from de-recognising Manual Workers

The Office of Labour of Commissioner has ordered Botswana Revenue Service (BURS) to conclude the 2014 salary negotiations with Manual Workers Union instead of withdrawing its recognition.

The order was made by the Office of the Commissioner of Labour mediator Besenia Buraga following an application by BURS that sought to withdraw recognition of the trade union over allegations that it was not meeting the threshold.

In his ruling Buraga states that BURS had written to the Office of the Commissioner of Labour giving Manual Workers Union a one month notice in terms of the collective agreement they have with the Trade Union.

“The Office of the Commissioner responded to BURS to the effect that it notes the application to withdraw the recognition and notice, however it advised BURS to give Manual Workers a further two months to meet the threshold since it felt that one month was not enough to recruit new members to the meet the threshold,’ said Buraga.

He said after the expiry of two months BURS wrote another letter still applying to withdraw recognition on grounds that the trade union has not met the threshold despite the fact that it was given a further two months on the advice of the Office of the Commissioner of Labour. 

Buraga said the Office of the Commissioner of Labour then respondent d to BURS informing it that since 60 days had elapsed with no response from the union this means it was not disputing claims that it was not meeting the threshold. Since there was no response from the trade union, its recognition was withdrawn.

It was only after a copy of withdrawal was served in the trade union that it responded challenging the withdrawal and arguing that no proof was forwarded to them regarding the total number of BURS employees who fall within the scope of management. 

According to Buraga, the trade union applied that there should be a meeting between it, BURS and Office of the Commission of Labour to verify allegations that it was not meeting the threshold.

“The union stated that it has a collective agreement that is binding the two parties so the agreement cannot be terminated or the recognition cannot be withdrawn without having a constituted meeting of the joint Negotiation Committee where issues of withdrawal could be discussed,” said Buraga.

 At the same meeting the union argued that there were a number of pending issues among them salary negotiations and they should be concluded first.

Buraga said the trade union expressed shock that instead of resolving some of the pending issues, BURS informed it that it was not meeting the threshold.

“BURS said it did not have the mandate to address other issues except that of threshold numbers,” said Buraga adding that later BURS also said that it was not in a position to meet the Trade Union because the issue of recognition had been withdrawn by the Office of the Commissioner of Labour hence there was nothing binding them.

He said the trade union disagreed with BURS stating that the figures of their members at BURS keep on fluctuating; they were “short by 39 members to meet the threshold which could be realised if given the opportunity to do so.”

Buraga ruled that the submission by BURS “that they cannot meet the trade union because the recognition was withdrawn does not hold water because the withdrawal was challenged and the parties met before the mediator and the withdrawal was suspended pending determination on the matter.” He further ruled that the two parties should file new submissions supported by evidence. 

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