Industrial Court on Monday ruled that the decision by government to award three percent salary hike to the civil servants was unlawful and cannot be allowed to continue to effect.
Delivering his ruling Judge Harold Ruhukya of the Industrial Court said whether or not public service salaries are increased is a matter for the sole determination of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and nobody else.
Ruhukya trashed government’s reasoning that the awarding of three percent has already been implemented and therefore cannot be stopped. The Judge said that reasoning seeks to oust the powers of the Industrial Court to determine the matter.
He said one of the primary functions of the courts in a democratic country is that of the three arms of government, the judiciary exists to safe guard the laws of the country and ensure that such laws are observed and implemented by all and sundry without exception.
“The Director of Public Service Management and the Attorney General respondents are on record as saying that when the decision to award the increase was made at the end of March 2016 an exercise to input the new data was carried out in order that new salaries reflecting the three percent increase be paid this month,” said Ruhukya.
Ruhukya said if officials can be instructed to input data increasing salaries those same officers can be similarly instructed to input data to return the public service salaries back to their position pre 1st April 2016 so that from May 2016 the situation would be, as it were.
Industrial Court says until the Court of Appeal makes a determination on the matter before it the PSBC continues to exist.
“In as far as this matter is concerned and based on the concession by government that the three percent increase was unilaterally awarded, I find the decision to award the said salary increase was therefore a breach of the duty to bargain in good faith and the DPSM’s actions to actually proceed and implement the said salary increase, in terms of the affidavit by the Assistant Accountant General Tebogo Tomango, unlawful,” said Ruhukya.
The court interdicted DPSM effective 1 May 2016 from continuing to pay to the public service the three percent salary increase;
The rule nisi shall be served on the non-unionised employees through publication in the Daily News of Wednesday 13th April 2016; and any non-unionised employees seeking to oppose BOFEPUSU application shall deliver notice in writing to the BOFEPUSU attorneys by Friday 15th April 2016.
Commenting on the outcome of the case shortly after the judgment was delivered BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said judgement should send a stern warming to government that no matter how state machinery could be powerful, it cannot undermine the laws of this country.
“Government just as trade unions has duty to bargain and engage unions candidly and in good faith as provided for the law. It should be noted that this is the second time that courts held that government has undermined the established procedures and acted in bath faith contrary to the available laws governing the process of negotiations,” said Rari.
BOFEPUSU said government could be deliberately undermining the rule of law. The union appealed to public servants to remain calm and patient.
“We appeal to them understand that the issue is not about a 3% increment, but it’s about safeguarding and jealously protecting the bargains power of the public service in this country. The public servants should understand that it has never happened anyway in the world where the employer generously award workers for their service without being pushed through a bargaining process by the unions,” said Rari.