Sunday, July 3, 2022

Council clerk harassed for joining public sector union

A member of the Botswana Land Boards and Health Workers Union (BLLAWU)’s leadership, Keaoleboga Dipogiso, claims he has become a victim of harassment at the workplace because of his association with BLLAWU.

Dipogiso is the Union’s official for the International Affairs desk and sits in BLLAWU’s central committee. He is employed as a council clerk under the Ministry of Local Government and is currently based in Tonota where he works under the Tonota sub land board.

So serious is the matter that the general secretary of BLLAWU, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, has decided to launch a complaint of unfair labour practice with the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Local Government.

The Union is complaining that, as part of its harassment, Dipogiso is not being allowed to attend the central committee meetings and is accused of ‘disturbingly travelling and missing from work’.
The union also views Dipogiso’s frequent transfers as workplace harassment.

“Of recent, there has been scheming and colluding between management of Central District Council and Tonota Sub District Council to have the officer transferred on account that the latter is alleging that he is difficult to deal with and is always travelling and that it is appropriate that he be transferred to headquarters where he can be managed closely by the council Secretary,” reads the complaint letter filed with the permanent secretary’s office last month.

The Union says that it raises eyebrows that Dipogiso has been transferred twice within the Central District Council within two years. It maintains that this is contrary to government policy on transfers.

“This is tantamount to gross abuse of authority and prejudice towards an employee where he has been transferred from Boteti sub District Council to Tonota sub District within less than three years period, and now hardly less than two years he is being threatened with transfer again which is nothing but meditated punishment upon the employee,” the letter further reads in part.

According to the Union the use of transfers to punish Unionists is a threat to employee’s rights to Unionize and a breach of the Public Service Act.

“…section 45 is lucid enough in elaborating the right of employees to belong to Unions and for them as members and further as leaders to carry their task without intimidation, impediment and prejudice,” states Motshegwa.

According to BLLAWU, by refusing to grant Dipogiso permission to attend Union meetings as well as keeping him (Dipogiso) on his heels through transfers, the Central District Council management is stifling Union leaders from carrying out their duties.

Motshegwa has urged the ministry leadership to intervene against those that the Union perceives as abusing their authority.

The Assistant minister of Local Government and Rural Development has, however, denied that there is any case of workplace harassment within his ministry.

In a separate interview with the Sunday Standard, Tshireletso advised the union to pursue the issue with the ministry leadership.

“It will be prudent to report the issue to the Permanent Secretary or minister’s office….he has not come to us. We can only get involved if the issue is reported to us,” said Tshireletso.

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