Friday, August 12, 2022

Unions and Government negotiations yield disagreements

Trade unions and the government could not reach an amicable agreement in terms of salary negotiations. This is after a series of meetings which started on the 17 to the 24 September, ending in unfinalised agreements and pending talks.

Tobokani Rari, Chairperson of Salary negotiations from the trade unions, admitted that for now the employer and trade unions are not agreeing in what is being put on the table. He said the trade unions and government had to evoke the negotiation rule which states that there can be a cooling off period which will last for 10 working days. Rari said the parties concerned might also consider looking at starting a fresh mandate. He said the parties are to consult the principals or those represented on this procedure.

“The meeting was about setting a dialogic negotiation setup. In this point and time, the unions are to meet the constitution or the principal. We are in a cool off period which takes 10 days and after that the negotiations will commence on the 9th of October. As for now the parties are still to work on what was put on the table. This will call for considerations or reconsiderations by both parties until they reach a final agreement. After October, the parties may reach a deadlock or even take a look on alternative options available depending on what will be decided,” said Union salary negotiations, Chief Negotiator Sikalame Seitiso.

The Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) is the platform in which these negotiations were done; this was a two party talk in which the concerned parties were discussing salary increment. In these negotiations the government as the employer, put their offer on the table while the trade unions also put their figure. Both parties discuss economic matters in order to reach a final agreement on workers salary increment.

“Our initial proposal is for the government to consider that inflation is very high. This makes the buying power very weak, therefore in these talks we are to discuss with the government to consider cushioning the employees against the escalating cost of living. Inflation makes money lose its value; therefore the government has to consider increasing salaries of the workers so that people can gain buying power. The government has been taking too long to address the issue of inflation for past four years and this is why these negotiations are of high priority,” said Seitiso.

Prior to salary negotiations the government faces a task of marginalising the public wage bill which is said to be high.

According to the 2012/13 budget speech, the government is to reduce its wage bill by 5 percent in 3 years. This wage bill reduction advice was echoed by the International Monetary Fund 2012 Article IV Consultation with Botswana, which stated that the wage bill is high and needs to be reduced. In the past years, the workers and the government have been dealing with many unresolved issues which led to last year’s strike by the majority of the civil servants.

In these salary negotiations with the government, BOFEPUSU represents its five affiliates: BTU, BOPEU, BOSETU, BLLWHU and Manual Workers.

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