Saturday, May 28, 2022

Last minute negotiations between unions and gov’t collapse

Government has walked out of a settlement agreement that was supposed to bring an end to the ongoing public sector strike.

On Monday government announced that it welcomed an apology by the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU). A statement from Permanent Secretary to the President, who is also cabinet Secretary Eric Molale offered all striking public workers a 3% salary adjustment but refused to reinstate fired essential service employees.

This has shocked the unions following days of behind the scene efforts aimed at conjuring a deal to eventually end the strike. The panel of negotiators had expanded to include Church leaders, BOCCIM and former President Sir Ketumile Masire.

Caught by surprise after tendering a public apology for the strike on Sunday, an obviously irate union official released a statement on Monday accusing government of somersaulting on a mediation agreement to end the strike.

According to Kekgonegile Goretetse the union’s publicity secretary government had promised during negotiations to implement resolutions of a special meeting of parliamentarians that among others urged government to reinstate fired employees.

The union denies ever apologizing to Government and President Ian Khama and insists all this is part of state media misinformation. According to the union an apology was only extended to innocent members of the public affected by the strike.

This was the same apology which was given by the union leader Masego Mogwera before she kissed minister Mokweetsi Masisi in what was supposed to be a stage managed act of reconciliation.

“The allegation by the employer to the effect that BOFEPUSU apologized to the employer, in particular, ought to be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.BOFEPUSU never apologized to the employer…..There was never any apology to the President, and there was no need for the employer to accept any apology,” Goretetse’s statement reads in part.

The union says that due to President Ian Khama’s unwillingness to compromise the strike will continue.

In an interview with The Telegraph minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Mokgweetsi Masisi defended Khama as he denied the union’s claim on the failed mediation. He said Khama was not the one responsible for refusing to reinstate the fired employees.

“Cabinet met today and at this meeting government position on the issue was taken,” said Masisi.
In a separate interview , one of the church officials that were involved in the negotiations Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo revealed that the church leaders had put in a lot of effort to try and resolve the impasse ,however nothing positive had come from the talks.

“We have not managed to reach a solution acceptable to both parties,” he told The Telegraph.


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