Thursday, August 6, 2020

Diamond Workers Union challenge Registrar over new union

The Botswana Diamond Workers’ Union (BDWU) has filed a letter with the Registrar of Trade Unions and Employers’ Organizations objecting to proposed registration of a new union to be named the Botswana Diamond Sorters and Valuators Union (BDSVU) arguing it would be problematic.

Even though, Jacob Mpasopi, General Secretary of the BDWU, had, in response to articles in our sister paper, the Sunday Standard, highlighted the concern that people who appear in the leadership of the new union still have to resign, he was now reluctant to comment on the issue of their letter of objection.

However, according to the letter, which we obtained from a reliable source, the persons mentioned in the schedule seeking registration of the new union have not resigned or renounced their membership of BDWU as stipulated by the constitution of the union they currently belong to, except for Kabelo Kelepile and Mogae Motshubi who have been recently expelled from the union.

Reference was also made to the fact that both the BDWU constitution and the Trade Union and Employers Organizations’ act discouraged dual membership.

Moreover, that “the persons mentioned in the schedule were ┬áactively involved in representing BDWU in negotiations with DTCB Management and mediation hearings at the Labour Department even after the 15th January 2013, which is indicated to be the date of establishing of the proposed union”.

“It would thus be very crucial and, therefore, resourceful evidence for us if the Registrar could furnish us with specifics, such as dates and other attendant facts as well as venue where the resolution authorising formation of the new union was taken,” commented a BDWU official, who declined to respond to Sunday Standard questions citing internal discipline.

So premised on this, BDWU has challenged the Registrar to produce traceable evidence attesting to the statement that the union was established on the 15th January, 2013 as alleged in the government gazette Notice No. 186 of 2013 published 22nd March 2013.

Another argument presented by BDWU is that the formation of the new union is an unnecessary and unjustifiable project that will only have the effect of creating confusion within the workplace, namely DTCB as the already existing union adequately serves the interests of employees in the same workplace.

Worst still, the fact that the name proposed by the new union was previously used by BDWU, which is contesting the registration still reflects in correspondence from a lot of stakeholders, such as allied trade union organization, employers as well as banks which the union holds accounts with, forms yet one of the main BDWU’ contentions.

It has also emerged that the particulars provided for the physical location of the new union’s office is the same address used by the BDWU in their bargaining agreement with DTCB, thus prompting BDWU to demand full proof that all the relevant requirements for establishment of the new union have been complied with.

Responding to the issues raised, Kelepile, the registered President of the new union, and who chaired the DTCB before his expulsion by the BDWU, has poured water over them, saying the new union was the collective product of the DTCB branch and that regarding resignation they would do it when the timing is right.

As for the particulars of their office, he said, “That office actually belongs to us (DTCB Branch) and to the National Executive of the BDWU nothing will change, you confirm that with Management if you will.”

To establish the Registrar’s position, an enquiry has been forwarded to the relevant office, although with certainty we are able to confirm that he has been beseeched to reject the application for the proposed union.

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Sunday Standard August 2 – 8

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of August 2 - 8, 2020.