Saturday, May 15, 2021

Proposed salary increase for soldiers, police angers unions

A proposal by the Cabinet led by President Ian Khama to increase salaries for members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police Service (BPS) officers and Botswana Prisons Services (BPS) officers has left Public Service unions seething with anger over the announcement.

According to the proposal, other public officers will have to wait for the Bargaining Council to determine their salary hike.

Vice President who is also Member of Parliament for Moshupa, Mokgweetsi Masisi, made the announcement to members of the disciplined forces in Moshupa last Sunday.

Masisi said he was aware that his government was not paying the members of the disciplined forces that much hence the move by cabinet to propose the hike. The Vice president did not mention how much in terms of percentages the government is willing or proposing to increase for the disciplined forces salaries.

The government has a right to increase salaries for the non unionised public servants, however trade unions believe that an increase in salaries of civil servants must apply to all civil servants.

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) secretary general, Tobokani Rari, said he is surprised by the government U-turn. Rari said they proposed this deferential increment before but the government refused arguing that there was no way other public officers could get a hike while others are left out.

“We were the first to propose this differential increment but the government refused stating that the increase should be across board, why the U turn now? At the time we proposed this differential increment we argued that no one was standing in for the voices of the disciplined forces because they are non unionising organisations,” Rari said.

He said that if the government is going to increase salaries for the disciplined forces it means that the government pre-empt the negotiations at the bargaining council.

“What about their principle of no differential increment? They clearly stated before that they do not believe in the principle of differential increment. What is prompting them to use that principle now?” said Rari.

Last year President Khama made a similar pronouncement in Taung. Khama said the government was going to increase the non-unionised public officers salaries with four percent. To the trade Union surprise the four percent hike was applied for all civil servants. At the time, the government was still at the bargaining table with the trade unions for a possible salary hike.

Rari said he does not trust the government because it says one thing and the next thing something else is implemented.

“Masisi is doing the same thing that Khama did last year when he pronounced a hike for the non unionised public officers. What happened next was a shock as the hike affected all the public officers,” he said concluding that nobody should fool the nation as it is easy to predict what is likely to happen next.

“This also jeopardises the bargaining council because the hike for disciplined forces is likely to be the same hike the government will bring at the bargaining council for other civil servants. This means the government has already made up its mind in terms of how much she is willing to increase civil servants salaries,” he said.

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