Monday, September 28, 2020

Gov’t Vs Trade Unions: who is fooling who”

By Khonani Ontebetse

Public Service unions have had to write a letter to the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) demanding that they be furnished with a copy of conditions of service and salary review that was done by Malaysian consultants.

In his recent State of the Nation Address President Mokgweetsi Masisi had boasted that his government had shared the copy with trade unions.

The president did not say that happened only after so demanded by Trade Unions.

In December last year, the Directorate of Public Service Management invited recognised Public Sector Unions for notification on Consultancy work for review of conditions of service of public servants, through Malaysian based Pemandu Consultants.

The letter which was written to DPSM Director Goitseone Mosalakatane was signed by representatives from Botswana Sectors of Educators’ Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), Botswana Teachers’ Union (BTU), Botswana Landboards, Local Authorities and Health Workers’ (BLAHWHU), National Amalgamated Local Central Government and Parastatal Workers’ Union (NALCGPWU).

“We the six recognised trade unions in the public service, being NALCGPWU, BOPEU , BTU, BOSETU, BONU, BLLAHWU note that, whilst efforts to resuscitate the Public Service Bargaining Council are on-going and noting further that the process is bound take some time,” reads the letter from the unions.

They further stated that “We propose to your office that you should convene a meeting of recognised trade unions in the public service to discuss the PEMANDU report and recommendations with a view to engage on the review of conditions of service wages of the public service. This is owing to the fact that the budgetary processes have commenced and we are left with hardly six months before the commencement of the 2019/2020 financial year.”

The Director of DPSM then wrote a letter to Public Sector Unions indicating to them that they are not recognised. The matter was recently before court and the government, through a temporary order, has been instructed by the court to recognise the union.

BLLAHWHU secretary general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said apart from the letter that sought to derecognize the unions, thatup to now DPSM has not responded to correspondence by Trade Unions requesting that they be furnished with a copy of the report from the Malaysian consultants despite Government having standards for communication.

He said that while having indicated that she doesn’t have recognition agreements with Public Sector Trade Unions, the employer on the same day of this position wrote to such Trade Unions inviting them for a meeting on Monday 22nd October 2018, to continue with process for resuscitation of the Council.

“The question that follows then, is how appropriate is it for Government to say they don’t recognise the Unions and at the same time expect them to participate in a process which strictly require participation by recognised entities,” said Motshegwa who is also the Deputy Secretary General of BOFEPUSU. 
He said the labour movement is highly troubled and “worried by inconsistencies and blowing hot and cold act by the employer on important national matters.” 
According to Motshegwa, “It must be understood that Trade Unions are highly dedicated and committed to the process of resuscitation of P.S.B.C, as it is a structure beneficial to workers in enabling them to participate in decision making pertaining to their welfare and conditions of service.”

He added that “That is also significant for enhancement of industrial democracy. We can only plead with the Government through DPSM to be serious and objective in these national important matters for conditions of service of workers need to be urgently addressed.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.