Saturday, September 23, 2023

Privatisation – Gov’t retrenches hundreds of civil servants

Government will retrench hundreds of blue collar civil servants this year as part of its privatisation exercise. Multiple sources within the government enclave this week confirmed that the retrenchment will be done in phases and redundant workers will be offered voluntary or involuntary packages. Roads Department, schools and hospitals will be targeted in the first phase. . According to documents passed to the Sunday Standard, non-core employees at Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole, Letsholathebe Hospital in Maun, Sabrina Psychiatric Hospital in Lobatse and Palapye Hospital have been served with letters notifying them that their contracts will be terminated as of March 31. Next on the government retrenchment list are non teaching staff in schools from primary, schools to tertiary institutions. The planned privatisation how ever faces resistance from most redundant workers who are unhappy with the voluntary exit package proposed by the government. Employees at Scottish Livingstone Hospital explained that “we are uncomfortable with voluntary exit package because of the fear of the unknown,” adding that “should we quit our jobs what are we going to do next, it is better to be retrenched so that we can feel the cruelty meted out to us by our government.” Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) Director, Carter Morupisi confirmed the looming retrenchments, explaining that many government departments are outsourcing non-core functions. Morupisi, however, was not in a position to state how many public servants will be shunted out of the public sector and how much the government has budgeted for exit packages. “I don’t have details as we speak. We have a team that is tasked with handling the privatisation exercise. It is not only hospitals that will retrench some of their employees but various government departments will be outsourcing noncore duties in phases,” he said. Manual Workers Union Organising Secretary Johnson Motshwarakgole also confirmed the privatisation excercise. “We are bracing for a litany of problems ahead as a result of this privatisation exercise. As we speak, employees from seven hospitals across the country who are mostly our members employed in the laundry, kitchen, cleaning services have been affected by this exercise,” he said. Motshwarakgole pointed out that despite the fact that they held meeting with the affected employees in collaboration with government officials, most of the employees rejected the voluntary exit package proposal. “At first they reasoned that they did understand what it entails. We then requested officials from the government to hold separate meetings with our members but still they rejected the voluntary exit package despite the fact that it had more financial benefits than the involuntary exit package,” he said. Motshwarakgole said even if they do not support the privatisation exercise there was nothing they could do because they cannot halt its implementation. “This privatisation is too bad for a country that has a large number of unemployed people and many people are going to lose their jobs,” he said. Motshwarakgole added that “Hundreds of employees in all government schools will also be affected by this exercise. As we speak we are working around the clock to consult them on the impending retrenchment. We have also been made to understand that some at department of roads will also be sent packing.” Motshwarakgole is of the view that privatisation is not bad but the problem was the way it was implemented by the government. “We are still negotiating to see if those who are not willing to quit on voluntary exit bases cannot be deployed to some departments. We also believe that they should have been given enough time to wind up,” he said. Motshwarakgole said despite the fact that the government was encouraging the affected employees to set up companies so that the departments could engage them when they outsource their services, the reality on the ground was that the employees were struggling to set up such companies. This month some employees at the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) will also have their contracts terminated as a result of the privatisation exercise.


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