Monday, October 19, 2020

Court halts salary talks, delays judgment

Industrial Court Judge, Tebogo Maruping on Friday postponed for the third time a judgment in which Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) is challenging the admission of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) to Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).

The case was brought before the Industrial Court as an urgent application. The Judgment was expected to be delivered last Wednesday but was postponed to Friday reasons being that the judge was not yet done with compiling the judgment.

On Friday the judgment was postponed again from 0900hrs to 1600hrs. The judge gave same reasons he gave previously. At 1600hrs on Friday the judgment was yet postponed to tomorrow (Monday), lawyers representing both BOPEU and BOFEPUSU were called to chambers to be briefed on the postponement.

The case also brought confusion between attorneys representing BOPEU and BOFEPUSU as it was not clear whether there was an order halting the salary talks pending the delivery of judgement or not.

This publication can confirm that immediately after the Friday court session attorney Omphemetse Motumise representing BOFEPUSU wrote to the Registrar enquiring whether there is an order halting the salary talks.

On the other hand BOPEU attorneys wrote to BOFEPUSU attorneys indicating that there is an order halting the salary talks.

Motumise told this publication in a telephonic interview that; “We wrote a letter to the Registrar enquiring whether there is an order holding the salary talks pending the delivery of the judgment or not,” he said.

He said their letter to the Registrar was a follow up to the letter that they received from BOPEU lawyers which indicated that there was an order halting the salary talks.

“We just wanted to know whether there was an order to that effect issued by the court because no order to that effect has been brought to our attention. We wanted to understand the writing from the other side,” said Motumise.

This means the salary negotiations talk at PSBC hang in a limbo until the judgment is released by the Industrial Court.

BOPEU argues that BOFEPUSU is not a trade union that is recognised at the work place by the employer. BOPEU says only individual trade unions that constitute BOFEPUSU are recognised at the work place by the employer therefore threshold should be met by individual trade unions at PSBC.

On the other hand BOFEPUSU points out that BOPEU was party to the same arrangement that was made back in 2011 that trade unions will bargain as BOFEPUSU at PSBC. BOFEPUSU contend that it was never disputed that BOPEU was part of the arrangement; and as an individual trade union BOPEU has never at a given time decided to go solo at the bargaining table, BOPEU chose to remain under BOFEPUSU.

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