The Government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry has failed to prevail over the Board of Local Enterprise Authority (LEA)’s decision to increase the Authority’s employees’ salaries by 10 percent.
The salary hike follows talks between LEA management and the Botswana Public Service Union (BOPEU) which were concluded this week.
Sources say upon learning that the LEA management had signed an agreement with BOPEU to increase employees’ salaries by 10 percent, the Ministry questioned the Authority as to why such a decision was taken without its blessings and consultations.
BOPEU Secretary General Topias Marenga confirmed that his union has signed an agreement with LEA management that their members should get a 10 percent salary hike.
“We had been holding negotiations with LEA management for quite some time and the negotiations were concluded this week. After the negotiations we agreed that we should settle for a 10 percent salary increase,” he said.
Marenga also confirmed reports that the Ministry queried the board’s decision to give LEA management the go ahead to increase salaries for BOPEU members.
“The Ministry told LEA management that it was not supposed to increase salaries without having consulted them first. But the management told the Ministry that it was answerable to the Board. They were given the mandate to take the decision including increasing salaries by the board,” said Marenga.
According to Marenga the Ministry has since given up on pursuing the matter since the board is independent and can take decisions without consulting the Ministry.
“When the matter was brought to the attention of the Minister, he also appreciated that the Board is an independent body. The Ministry’s bone of contention was also that the talks were expedited and that could have compromised them,” he said. Marenga added that the salary increase will be backdated to 1st of April last year.
BOPEU is a member of the Botswana Federation of Public Sectors’ Union (BOFEPUSU) which is currently negotiating salary increase for civil servants through the Public Service Bargaining Council.
Asked if it was BOFEPUSU that gave BOPEU the mandate to negotiate for salary increase for LEA employees, Marenga answered in the negative adding that there was nothing wrong with BOPEU negotiating salaries for BOPEU employees without the evolvement of the umbrella body.
He said they are also hoping that salary talks at the Public Service Bargaining Council “will go smoothly and bring the desired results.”
When briefing heads of Parastatals recently, Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi urged Chief Executive Officers to advise boards of parastatals on issues of salary talks with unions. He added that Chief Executive Officers should advise boards of their parastatals on how salaries are perked.
Morupisi said it does not help when parastatals sign agreements with unions on salary increases when they know that the government’s purse is running dry.
“You should guard against temptations that will lead to the stakeholder (government) getting into financial troubles, especially when you know that the stakeholder does not have enough money,” he said.