Monday, October 25, 2021

Senior govt officials get big ‘backdoor’ wage hike

Six days before government announced a 4 percent salary hike for civil servants, some top officials’ salaries increased by 14 percent.

According to the documents passed to the Sunday Standard, the increments are to be implemented on April 1.

The first document marked “Public Service Management Directive No. 12 of 2017, Adjustment of Salaries” shows that the government used an excuse to correct what it calls salary grade differentials for senior civil servants as a backdoor to increase to senior public officers’ salaries.

The directive dated March 23, 2017 was signed by the Director of Public Service Management, Ruth Maphorisa.

 The document shows that prior to the announcement of a 4-percent salary hike, Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo and Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi’s salaries were increased by 14 percent to P872 688 per annum. Before that they earned P670 896 per annum.

President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ian Kirby also had his salary increased as he now pockets P765 516 per annum. Before that he was earning P643 452 per a month. 

On the other hand, Resident Justice and Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President now earns P671 508. Before that they earned P616 056.

 Maphorisa’s savingram addressed to various government departments states that “Government has decided to correct the salary grade differential for the Chief Justice/Permanent Secretary to the President, President of the Court of Appeal/Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President and Resident Justice to maintain  the 14 percent grade differential at Executive level.”

 Another document signed by Morupisi dated March 29, titled “Press Release: Government announces adjustment in the salaries, allowance and conditions of service for certain categories of employees as well as increase in social grants” shows that Dibotelo, Morupisi and other senior official will have their salaries’ increase twice in a space of six days.

The document signed by Morupisi announced a 4-percent salary hike to non-unionised members of the public service.

These include staff members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Police and Prison Services, along with the Directorates of Intelligence (DIS) and Security and Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Other non-unionised civil servants to benefit from the increase include specified officers being the Chairperson and other members of the Public Service Commission, the Attorney General, Auditor General, Secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission, Director of Public Prosecutions, Judicial Service.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) has approached the High Court to interdict the government from implementing the 4-percent salary increase.

“The Applicant unions have been receiving numerous queries since the release of the statement, from its members enquiring as to what was going on. Countless public officers have indicated that they will be withdrawing their membership of the Applicants in order to receive an increment,” states BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari in his affidavit.

He accused government of being contemptuous saying the unions have an application pending before the court which seeks to determine for all officers in the public service, unionised and non-unionised, to fall within the scope of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and their conditions are to be settled by PSBC.

According to Rari, the High Court has indicated that it will deliver its judgement in respect of whether officers in the public service, unionized and non-unionized, fall within the scope of the Public Service Bargaining Council and their conditions are to be settled by the Public Service Bargaining Council on 7th April 2017.

“The Applicants have no difficulties with the persons named in the said Press Release except one group of persons and these are the non-unionised public officers. These categories of public officers are governed by the Public Service Act,” said Rari. 

He added that the government’s decision to proceed to effect an increment with them effectively renders any judgment that the High Court delivers in respect of the scope of the Public Service Bargaining Council hollow.

“It is most contemptuous of the authority of the Honourable Court for the government to proceed to implement decision that effectively renders the Honourable Court’s judgment hollow,” he said.

He revealed that prior to argument on the scope of the PSBC; the government withdrew its participation in the 2016/17 and 2017/19 wage negotiations.

“The justification advanced by Government was that they did not want to engage in bargaining until the proper scope of the bargaining council had been determined by the Honourable Court. As matters stand all negotiations before the PSBC have been suspended until the Honourable Court has determined the scope of the PSBC,” said Rari.

He said that “having indicated that it wishes the Court to provide clarity on the scope of the Public Service Bargaining Council before engaging unions on wage negotiations, it comes as a complete shock that government now takes a decision in respect of the group of employees that the Court had to determine whether or not they fall within the scope of the PSBC.”

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