Thursday, July 18, 2024

Union forces gov’t to hike pay 

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship has agreed to rectify contracts for poverty eradication officers. 

This was after the Botswana Land Boards and Local Authorities Workers Union (BLLAWU) dragged the ministry before the Commissioner of Labour Office. 

In a statement, the union’s secretary general Ketlhalefilwe Motshegwa indicated that the parties have resolved the dispute by agreeing: 

-That the Respondent will with effect from 01st December 2023 rectify the active fixed term contracts for former eligible Poverty Eradication Officers, ensuring equal treatment for all individuals without any form of segregation. 

“The rectification will be retrospective to 01st November, 2022.  This is full and final settlement of this dispute,” the statement says. 

Motshegwa indicated “As indicated in our last update of 26 July 2023, we declared a dispute before the Commissioner of Labour for Alternative dispute resolution on the matter regarding the inconsistencies of grades or scales of the Poverty Eradication Officers.” 

Motshegwa indicated that “The mediation was first heard on the 7th August 2023 where at the respondent (Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Ministry of Presidential Affairs) were in agreement that indeed there existed inconsistencies as such requested time to populate information of the affected officer.” 

Earlier on in a notice, the union had stated that it has several members employed as Poverty Eradication Officers under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration.

The members are employed on contractual terms and a resolution was taken to extend Poverty Eradication Officers contracts from One-year contracts to Two Year Contracts.

“After the said resolution, the employer in implementing same contravened the law and was inconsistent as follows: Some officers were notched at C3 whilst others were at C1, some officers were leapfrogged from C4 to C,” the union’s lawyers Moahi Attorneys said.

The statutory notice indicated that newly appointed officers were placed at higher scales than those of their counterparts they found in employment.

“The above anomalies and inconsistencies violate the parity principle in that equally circumstanced people are accorded differential treatment in the workplace,” the attorneys said.

They added that: “Further thereto the conduct violates the Public Service Act, particularly Sections 7(c) & amp;(e) as those who are given lower salaries are being treated unfairly and being discriminated against.”

The lawyers also indicated that the anomalies and inconsistencies violate the parity principle in that equally circumstanced people are accorded differential treatment in the workplace “further thereto as it relates to those who are leapfrogged to earn more than those with experience, such conduct violates Section 14 of the Public Service Act as it is clear that advancement shall be based on a proven track record of performance.”

BLLAHWU said the employer had undertaken to address the above cited anomalies, however after several demands including through written correspondence, the employer is yet to do the needful. The union demanded that the said anomalies be corrected within a period of 30 days and client affected members be paid their salary arrears.

“In the event of refusal to accede to our demands herein, we hold instructions to approach court after elapse of thirty day to seek declaratory orders that will compel the employer to correct the anomalies and act within the confines of the law,” said BLLAHWU.

The background of the matter is that on the 21st March 2023, the union delivered a comprehensive letter to the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of State President and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Entrepreneurship detailing the serious grievances of Poverty Eradication Officers/Wealth Creation Officers in relation to their scales and progression, bordering on unfair labour practices.

Upon noting failure by the Permanent Secretaries to provide response, on the 26th April 2023, BLLAHWU declared a dispute before the Commissioner of Labour for Alternative dispute resolution on the matter, and they indicated that they would issue a date, once a mediator has been appointed.

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