Labour relations at the University of Limkokwing may have slid into a murky terrain following failure by management to honour their side of a legally binding agreement with the tertiary Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) on behalf of their members, regarding payment of outstanding arrears emanating from the 2009 revised salary structure.
Allegations that the University had withheld all employees’ pay slips for the month of February has resulted in heightened anxiety and fears that Management might not live up to their part of the agreement to have enforced the revised pay structure, even after the end of February 2010, which was the set deadline.
To confirm the allegations, a member of staff, who declined to be mentioned by name, intimated to The Sunday Standard thus, “I personally find it not only strange that we have not gotten our pay slips by this time since its already the 26th, but it worries me that we might not get a sweet deal even after the 28th February 2010, which was the agreed date.”
Barbara Tsipana, the Public Relations Officer at the University of Limkokwing, initially indicated that she was not aware of the fact that all members had not yet gotten their pay slips, but added that even she was still to collect hers at the pay roll department.
However, after confirming with management, Tsipana confirmed that indeed the matter had been a subject of discussion, and that a decision had accordingly been made.
“I can now confidently state to you that the position of management is that indeed it has not been possible to meet the deadline for enforcement of the agreement, but it has now been resolved that all deserving employees will get their dues on the 3rd March 2010, and pay slips would have been issued as of the 2nd March 2010,” said Tsipana.
Though it did not come out clear why the pay slips could not be issued at the normal time of the month, which has always been some time prior to the date of payment, information passed to The Sunday Standard, indicated that there may be two possibilities to explain the withholding.
“Either the slips reflected the normal pay structure, but then given the fact that it was generally expected that payments for February would include back pay but the overseas based management was still to give the green light, or the slips reflected the negotiated and ideal structure but for some unknown reason had to be reviewed,” speculated one Trade union official.
But whatever the truth is, analysts argue that it is most unlikely that it connects to the agreement that was signed on 3rd June 2009, because if it did, there would be no basis at all for delaying or deferring the enforcement of the appropriate pay structure.
To compound matters, information passed to The Sunday Standard has revealed that two Senior Vice Presidents of Limkokwing (International) based in Malaysia, namely Dr Yayles Yeoh and Professor Gail Phung, had to rush into the country after learning that the calculations of the staff arrears drawing from the 2009 revised pay structure and conditions of service, resulted in an excess amount of 2.7 million pula in relation to the usual approximately 5million pula in remuneration costs.
On whether the officials came to address the issue of outstanding arrears, the PRO was non committal.
She said, “Yes the duo will natural handle some of the issues but I cannot precisely say what specific matters they will deal with, nothing specific too am I in a position to share about their stay. Besides, part of their reason for being here was to welcome the Malaysian Minister of Lands and Housing, Y.B Dato Sri Kong Cho Ha, who was in the country on a Commonwealth mission and meetings with Botswana authorities.”
“And the Minister only visited to see our campus,” added Tsipana.
According to the collective labour agreement, which bears the seal of the Commissioner of Labour, some of the burning issues which remain unattended include the notching of experience, entry points for non academic staff and the institution of an independent consultancy to carry out job evaluation and job analysis exercise.
However, the set timelines for almost all of these has since lapsed.
Investigations conducted by this paper have revealed that although the local head of the school, Edward Kemsly, who is also the Senior Vice President of the University, has been at helm of management in terms of co-signing the agreement with the Union, the operations of Limkokwing and the dynamics involved in all the past conflicts at that university carry all the hallmarks of the way multinationals do their business; taking orders from the centre.
How effectively the regulators would manage to ensure such kind of educational institutions comply with local labour laws and codes of practice remains to be seen.