Sunday, November 27, 2022

Unions collective interdicts BONU

The Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), National Amalgamated Local & Central Government & Parastatal Workers Union (NAL&CGPWU) and the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) have spoken out about their decision to take Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) to court interdicting it from hosting of Nurses’ Day celebrations and performance awards ceremony.

In a joint statement, the three unions said they are duly registered in terms of the Trade Unions and Employers Organisations Act (TUEOA), and are recognised in terms of the laws of Botswana as having entered into recognition agreements with the employer in the public service -the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).

“On that note, therefore, our trade unions have members who are nurses in the public service. These trade unions have the right to represent employees in labour matters,” they said. They explained that such representation includes the scope of negotiations, collective bargaining, the enforcement of collective agreements, health and safety standards, and the safeguarding of human rights. “At the onset we would like to state that we believe in the principles of uniting workers, trade unions and solidarity,” the Unions said.

They said the matter under clarification dates back to 2018 when the three trade unions engaged the Ministry of Health and Wellness for inclusion in discussions and planning for the annual nurses’ day and awards.

“We engaged in consultative meetings with the Ministry of Health and Botswana Nurses Union (BONU). On the 6th July 2022, there was a meeting attended by the four trade unions and officials from the Ministry of Health led by their Permanent Secretary, to discuss the 2022 Nurses Day Celebrations and the Performance Awards,” the statement reads in part.

At the said meeting, the four Trade Unions (BLLAHWU, BOPEU, NAL&CGPWU -Manual Workers Union and BONU) requested to meet and discuss the 2022 Nurses Day Celebrations and Awards among themselves and to present a united position to the Ministry of Health. “The Secretary Generals of the four trade unions were present, with BONU Secretary General chairing the meeting,” the statement says.

It says at this meeting, it was resolved that the four trade unions organising in the Ministry of Health will collectively prepare for the 2022 Nurses Presidential Awards and Celebrations, and that the trade unions meet virtually to brief their leadership on these resolutions.

“The resolution of this meeting was communicated by Comrade Phillip Fondondo of BONU, who appeared reasonable until he was later withdrawn from the meetings by his union. It is important to state that at the next meeting BONU suddenly reneged from the resolutions, demanding a larger representation to have more control over the preparations than the other unions,” the unions said.

According to the three unions’ things took a drastic turn when BLLAHWU, BOPEU and NAL&CGPWU were sidelined despite an earlier agreement with BONU and an understanding with the Ministry of Health.

It is on this account that the three trade unions wrote a letter of demand to the Ministry of Health on the 23rd August 2022, hoping that this matter will be settled amicably, the three unions said.

“The three trade unions had no choice but to institute an urgent application before the High Court to interdict the 2022 Nurses Day Celebrations and Awards so that all trade unions can be involved. Our trade unions took the matter to court on account of their organizational rights being undermined by the Ministry of Health,” they argued. They indicated that “As we subscribe to harmony and industrial peace, we will reach out to the Ministry of Health and BONU for peaceful settlement of the matter.”

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