Two more public sector unions have threatened to drag government to court over a recent decision to de-recognize them. The two, Tertiary Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and Botswana Government Workers Union (BOGOWU) have taken offense with the Directorate of Public Service Management’s decision to ask them to provide information on their membership as proof of the fact that they are lawfully recognized as unions.
“We find it out of place for DPSM to suggest that the basis of asking unions to provide information explaining the status of their membership was in anticipation of arrangements or preparations for the public service bargaining council,” said Allan Keitseng, President of TAWU.
This follows serious disagreements at a meeting between the two unions and DPSM on June 29th.
In a letter dated 8th June 2010, addressed to all the public service unions, reference was made to a Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Botswana Railways and Botswana Railways Crew, which hinged on proper interpretation of the provisions of section 48(1) of the Trade Unions and Employers Organizations Act (CAP: 48:01).
In the letter DPSM requested the unions to confirm their membership to determine whether or not they represent one third of all employees of the employer.
Keitseng said it is inconceivable that a statutory act adopted by the legislature in 2008, and only recently implemented, could be nullified just a few weeks later, on the basis of a judgment passed a year ago.
“Besides, as far as we concerned, prior recognition that were in terms of the law were not repealed by the review or coming into force of the public service Act of 2008” said Kaboda Phillip, Secretary General of BOGOWU.
The two unions insist that section 46 of the new public service law endorses their recognitions, as they are sector specific and therefore needed no aligning.
“We would like to reiterate that the decision of the Court of Appeal on the interpretation of the words, “all employees of the employer” as stipulated in section 32 of the Trade Disputes Acts in the case between Botswana Railways Vs Botswana Railways Train Crew is not a binding case law” said the unions.