Trade unions participating in the salary negotiations have expressed disgruntlement over the involvement of the Director of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), Carter Morupisi, in the affairs of the bargaining council.
After the deadlock of the 2012/2013 salary negotiations, the two parties drafted a joint press release that required both parties to sign. However, the employer refused to sign the press release.
Morupisi contravened the rules of the bargaining council appearing on Radio and TV retracting the release.
“What Morupisi did came as a shock to us because, in the first place, Morupisi is not part of the bargaining council,” said Johnson Motshwarakgole, the labour secretary at BOFEPUSU. Motshwarakgole said it should be known that the bargaining council is an autonomous body that is not answerable to anyone.
“The rules of the game everyone knows and we don’t know on what capacity he was talking,” he added.
He said DPSM should know that government is not doing the public sector a favour, instead workers are offering services that need to be paid for.
“We take Morupisi’s comments as an insult because government is not helping us,” he added.
Tobokani Rari, the chairman of the Bargaining Council, said that the way they have decoded Morupisi’s actions is that government does not take seriously the presence of the bargaining council, adding that the employer refused to sign the joint press release because they knew that Morupisi would address the nation through the media, undermining the council.
Rari added that comments made by DPSM had cast a lot of doubts on the part of government.
“He robbed rules of engagement and Morupisi’s actions show us the employer wants to weaken the council and the power of the working class,” he said.
Meanwhile, the negotiations, which began on Tuesday after a cooling off period on 9 October, deadlocked a day later. The deputy secretary general of BOFEPUSU said that the government representatives did not have the necessary flexibility to consider concerns being raised by unions because they have a fixed position.
Unions were demanding an eight percent across the board increase while government insisted on a three percent increment across the board.
Sources say the deadlock will see government’s proposed three percent come into effect but did not state when.
The Chairperson invoked Clause 16.3 of the negotiation rules, which refers to the parties to the Trade Dispute Act (TDA) for procedure to follow in case there is a dispute.
Parties agreed that the union party will lodge the dispute with the Commissioner of Labour for mediation.
“We are going to stage demonstrations and rallies on our way to a strike,” said Rari. He added that the only language government understands is when workers withdraw their labour.
Details on when the demonstrations will start will be agreed upon during tomorrow’s (Monday) meeting.
BOFEPUSU was representing its five affiliates, which are BTU, BOPEU, BOSETU, BLLWHU and Manual Workers.