Monday, November 29, 2021

High Court raps govt for pulling out of Bargaining Council

The High Court has forced government to go back to the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) after two months in which she had pulled out of the Council owing to ‘active participation of public service unions in politics’.

For the past two months, the Bargaining Council has not been operational, stalling salary negotiations.

On Thursday, Judge Abednigo Tafa interdicted and prohibited the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) from suspending its operations in the Council.

Judge Tafa found that there was no doubt that in the absence of one party in the Bargaining Council, it is rendered structurally dysfunctional.

He said the unions, therefore, have a right to have an interest in the functioning of the council.
Tafa said unions represent various members who have a right in terms of the Public Service Act to negotiate their salaries and wages with the employer.

“In my view, the balance of convenience favours the granting of the interim relief, in that it is in the interest of justice and indeed the smooth running of the affairs of both the employer and the employees that the Council be functional at least until the contemplated review proceedings have been determined,” he said.

Tafa said DPSM has at its disposal various means of dealing with the union’s representative behaviour if it is incompatible with those representatives’ positions as civil servants. This includes disciplinary action.

The DPSM had pulled out of negotiations, citing unhappiness with the continued overt support of political candidates by trade unions, which could involve the council in political controversy.
The relationship between unions and government has been sour for a very long time. This dates back to the historic 2011 public sector strike which ran for about two months.

Now government appears uninterested in dealing with labour unions.

In his State of the National Address, President Ian Khama said he had made a point of meeting with public servants at the local level to gain better insight into their concerns.

He also revealed that there has been a consultancy that was carried out to broadly examine ways to improve civil servants conditions of service.

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