Sunday, April 2, 2023

GCC workers down tools over gratuities and allowances

Former industrial workers at the Gaborone City Council depot downed tools on Friday morning, protesting against failure by the Gaborone City Council to pay them gratuities and allowances after they were converted to permanent and pensionable employees.

The Botswana Federation of Public Service Union threw their support behind the manual workers who congregated in large numbers at GCC depot demanding the leadership of the city council to come and explain the delay of their gratuities and allowances.

Workers are demanding a one-off payment of leave days and gratuity accrued in their previous employment status before the transition took place in 2010.

Aggrieved employees who spoke to Sunday Standard explained in an interview that they took a decision to down tools after the employer failed to include their allowances in their payment as agreed.

Employees also indicated that they were not going back to work until their demands are met.

However, BOFEPUSO, Labour Secretary, Johnson Motswarakgole, also shared his disappointment over the delay of payments to industrial workers.  Motswarakgole stated that GCC employees were not the only ones who were affected by the move that saw industrial workers being transferred to permanent and pensionable status.

“Most of the employees countrywide have not yet received their allowances and gratuities. It has not only affected the GCC employees but there is no genuine explanation as to what could have led to the delay of payments. Lately GCC employees went on strike where we had to intervene,” added Motshwarakgole.

He said that after the strike, BOFEPUSO met with the Ministry of Local Government, Permanent Secretary and the City mayor. He emphasised that nothing fruitful came out of the meeting as the PS explained that there was no money that could be used to pay the aggrieved employees.

Motshwarakgole stated that he was disappointed that the employer went to implement the transition without fully knowing that they have no funds to pay the employees.

He was concerned about the new development where employees downed tools without consulting the union. Motshwarakgole feared that the current government could possibly use employees’ actions as an excuse to dismiss them. He advised employees to consult the unions when they take action.

┬á“We have a government which is hell-bent on dismissing people when ever employees protest for their rights,” explained Motshwarakgole.

He also stated that BOFEPUSO had a meeting with the Ministry of Local Government this week where the ministry also maintained that there were no funds to pay the employees.

He also indicated that another meeting is expected to take place in October in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Motshwarakgole stated that even those who have been paid their money were not paid accordingly. He noted that BOFEPUSO and employees are not even aware about the method that is being used to pay the gratuities and allowances because employees have complained about the payments.

“In my life, I possibly respond to some of these issues angrily but I have remained calm at this time around because I cannot even get answers regarding the payments of employees,” he said.

He also emphasised that the most disheartening thing is that the employers have started deducting money from employees that goes towards their pension despite an advice from Alexander Forbes and Botswana Public Pension Fund that the employees are not in a bracket to qualifying for pension.

He said that they are not even aware where they are taking the deductions because Alexander Forbes and Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund have long advised that their payments could not qualify them to benefit.

The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokweetsi Masisi, promised parliament in the past session that of 46 600 industrial workers countrywide, 34 400 have so far been converted. He said that the government has paid the transferred workers over P275 million and has an outstanding balance of P388 million.

Masisi had assured parliament that the government was sourcing funds from savings of various ministries to make up for the shortfall.


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