Friday, October 23, 2020

Court orders Gov’t to stop hiring replacement for striking workforce

The Industrial Court has ordered government to stop employing temporary employees at Princess Marina Hospital before the end of the ongoing strike.

The order comes after an urgent application filed by the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BOFEPUSO) on Friday seeking for government to be interdicted from engaging replacement labour.
According to the Union, government has replaced workers at Princess Marina Hospital specifically in the cleaning, cooking, laundry and health services divisions.

The Union has also argued that some workers were replaced at Thamaga and Good Hope Clinics.
“The use of replacement labour as outlined above is not only illegal but totally unnecessary because from all government accounts of the strike action, given to the public through the public press, the strike has not affected service delivery to the public because a large majority of public officers have refrained from participating in the industrial action. Honourable minister John Seakgosing indicated on Botswana Television on the 19 April 2011 that 95 percent health workers employed…reported to work’, BOFEPUSO argued on Friday.

The Union’s view is that temporary employees hired by government defeat the purpose of the strike and renders it a useless pursuit without any teeth to push government to give in to the workers’ demands. The judgment would mean that services in the public sector, especially schools and hospitals, would be severely crippled.

Last week the Industrial court ruled against government and declared that contrary to the mediator’s ruling, Veterinary officers employed in the public sector were not part of government’s essential service manpower.

The strike is expected to intensify this week after Union leaders vowed to put pressure on government by picketing at boarder gates and in several government facilities around the country.
While the necessary services are unavailable in the public service because of want of manpower, the strike action has so far not moved government to open salary negotiations with the Unions. In fact, government has stressed that it will apply the ‘no-work ÔÇôno- pay rule’ for all its employees that participated in the strike.

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