Thursday, February 29, 2024

Industrial Court judge halts BPC early exit scheme

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) workers punched the air on Thursday after the Industrial Court judge Janie Devillers issued an order interdicting and restraining the corporation from continuing to implement the terms of early exit scheme on the members of the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union.

Devillers also ordered that the withdrawal of union workplace recognition is null and void and that the union is entitled to enjoy from BPC all the recognition and organasational rights in terms of the Trade Union and Employers Organisations Act.

This was a consented order.

In order to regulate the exercise of the Union ‘s organisational rights, the judge ordered that the union shall be entitled to use bulletin boards available in the workplace for the purposes of communicating with its membership provided that the communications are not abusive , obscene, inflammatory , defamatory of the company or indicate preference of one political party over another.

However, the union shall give notice of the intended publication prior to such publication.

Also the union shall be entitled to have meetings with its members employed by BPC, in the corporation’s premises provided that such meetings are convened during lunch period, free periods and after working hours.

That the union shall be entitled to visit BPC work place for purposes of recruiting new members during lunch and after working hours and that the union shall give three days written notice of the visits outlined above giving names of the officials or representatives who will need access to the workplace.

In view of the fact that the union does not currently meet the threshold for recognition, the judge gave the union 90 calendar days grace period to enable it to attain the threshold for recognition.

The two parties were ordered to meet on 29 May, 2009 to ascertain whether the union has been able to meet the threshold necessary for recognition.

In the event that the parties are in agreement that the union does not meet the necessary threshold for recognition, the judge ordered that BPC’s recognition of the union shall lapse.

If at that meeting, there is a dispute as to whether the union meets the threshold for recognition, the issue shall be determined by the Commissioner of Labour on or before 29 June, 2009 or ,finally, if need be, a ballot shall be conducted and its results final.

Commenting on the outcome of the case, the Union’s Secretary General, Johnson Motshwarakgole, said that they were happy with the judgment and that they have always expected this to be the outcome.

“We knew this was going to be the outcome. We have expected it,” he said.

On the issue of threshold, which the judge said they are still to meet, Motshwarakgole said that the issue of meeting threshold will be solved easily after this judgment as they will be able to go into BPC and recruit members, a thing they were not able to do before this.

“We will meet the threshold very soon after this as we will be able to enter the BPC premises and recruit,” he said.

Motshwrakgole also said that they are going to put their feet down and ask BPC to pay their members for 45 days worked per year across board and not 30 days the BPC wants to pay as is the going price for the government and parastatal currently.

“We fail to understand where BPC gets the 30 days worked per year it is propagating from when it is a parastatal which is dependent on government subsidies; the same government which is paying 45 days per year worked,” he said.

Tshiamo Rantao represented the Union whilst Sipho Ziga represented BPC.


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