Saturday, January 16, 2021

Civil service early exit policy to be made into law

Plans by Government to make into law the proposed early exit policy for public officers have been finalized and a Cab memo will be submitted for action in due course, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed.

Although government officials last month insisted that there were no plans for a public service early exit policy, Sunday Standard can reveal that the drafting of a public service exit policy is at an advanced stage.

This emerged from the Government’s response to the public service trade union demands for a review of the public service management directive Number. I of 2008, on public service salaries increase. Trade unions complained that the directive ignored their needs, and the commission’s recommendations.

Johnson Motshwarakgole, National organizing secretary for the manual workers union said, “We have put it to the Minister that on some elements of the proposed policy, on which agreement has not been reached, we seem to be taking long before they could be revisited. According to a document leaked to the Sunday standard, which the government denied knowledge of, consultations on the early exit policy took place as far back as 2005 until they were stalled by some disagreements with the manual workers union. “The Government wanted 30 days paid for every year served whereas we wanted 50 days,” said Motshwarakgole.

The other issues, on which the parties could not find common ground included notice pay, gratuity, transport (relocation on termination of employment) and relocation expenses. Despite these disagreements, government decided, according to the document, that, it intended that the policy be available to the industrial class employees even if they disagree, because the current provision on redundancy in the Regulations for Industrial Class Employees provides lower incentives (RIE).”

Pearl Matome, Deputy Director at the directorate of public service management (Ministry of State President) confirmed Government’s position to Sunday Standard.

“An early exit policy should not necessarily be construed to mean that there will be a massive and random slashing of the workforce,” she said.
On the contrary, it must be understood within the context of Government’s plans and ongoing efforts to rationalize the civil service. In addition, Matome said the policy has the best of intentions. She cited examples of institutions like the Botswana Unified Revenue Services and others which have been, and some are still targeted to be transformed into parastatals, where upon the same staff that previously performed the functions which are then outsourced, may be retrenched or absorbed en masse.

“The present situation where we just have to say bye bye, to those with whom, government will be parting ways, whether into the parastatals, or because their service would no longer be considered relevant, is not desirable.” The DPSM official said it is from this premises that Government proposes the early exit policy.

Last November, President Festus Mogae in his State of the Nation address, highlighted the urgency and the envisaged extent of the process. He said, “If we delay the process of privatization of Public enterprises… we will be doing ourselves a great disservice. Whilst privatization will, at times, entail short term costs, such as retrenchments, we must not be oblivious to its long term benefits in terms of efficiency sustainable employment, as well as higher quality services”

The government’s decision also finds footing in the recent directive on public service in place in amended recommendation paragraph 6.56 page 10 which states; “However, concerted efforts should be made to downsize the public service through progressive reduction in the total public service establishment by means of attrition (e.g. when an officer dies or resigns his post is left without filling or an early exit incentive scheme with a view to right sizing the public service within three years.

Motshwarakgole said, “We trust the government would not be tempted to indulge in such a great mistake of proceeding with the process without reverting back to us in respect of the issues that were outstanding the last time negotiations stopped. The DPSM official on the other hand maintained that all of the issues affecting the respective trade unions would best be addressed at their appropriate forums, where she said the union officials know better.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper