The war of words between rival public sector trade unions on the one hand and government on the other took a different turn this week when unionized public servants who are not on strike announced that they will not accept a salary offer that they are not party to.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Monday, the Vice President of the Tertiary and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) Edward Tswaipe said they were never part of the on going public sector strike, and will therefore not accept the resultant salary increase.
There is no love lost between Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and their rivals in TAWU and Botswana Government Workers Union (BOGOWU). TAWU and BOGOWU have previously accused government of funding public sector trade unions, and also cried foul about not being included in the bargaining council.
Members of TAWU and BOGOWU are not on strike, and their unions are busy setting up salary negotiations with government. However, Tswaipe said they have decided to seek recourse after government gave them the run around.
“Government has been dragging her feet when called to the negotiating table. It took us a month to negotiate the rules of engagement, and they were finally registered by the Commissioner of Labor last week Wednesday,” he said.
Tswaipe revealed that they have instructed their lawyer Kgoseitsile Ngakaagage to file an urgent application with the Industrial Court to express their displeasure with the government’s laxity.
“We want the court to order government to the negotiating table because they are acting in bad faith. We also want a declaration that the outcome of the current strike should not apply to us,” he said.
Tswaipe explained that it is up to the employer to decide the scope of coverage of the salary increase with BOFEPUSU, but warned that their members should be left alone.
He said as TAWU and BOGOWU they are not interested in anybody who is outside the bargaining unit (A3-D1).
As part of their wage negotiation efforts, TAWU have sought information on government’s wage bill, which excludes those who are outside the bargaining unit.
Tswaipe said government’s refusal to come to the negotiating table shows that it has something to hide.
“We will base our demands based on what government brings to the table. We will seek government documents, and peruse them together with government officials, after which we will agree how much government can afford,” said Tswaipe.
TAWU and BOGOWU are currently embroiled in a legal battle with government on the inclusion of the bargaining council. They have been excluded out of the bargaining council because it is said they do not meet the 33 percent threshold of the total number of the workforce. In turn, they argue that if the unions are required to meet the 33 percent of the total workforce of the employer then no union qualifies for recognition.