Veteran trade unionist, Johnson Motshwarakgole’s fresh attempt to eject the Botswana Government Workers’ Union (BOGOWU) from the ongoing public service salary negotiations suffered a setback. The Industrial Court dismissed his urgent court matter, which he had filed on December 20, 2018.
Motshwarakgole’s urgent application filed by Collins Chilisa Consultants was dismissed three days later when the acting registrar, Bakang Tshipinare informed the parties that the Industrial Court President, Justice Tebogo Maruping, had determined that the matter was not urgent.
Furthermore, Maruping determined that “Applicant should enforce the High Court order at the High Court”.
Motshwarakgole, the leader of the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU), had wanted the Industrial Court to, amongst others, interdict and restrain BOGOWU from participating in the ongoing salary negotiations with the employer.
Motshwarakgole also sought for the dissolution of BOGOWU as a union, as he prayed that the employer strip BOGOWU of any recognition, and that the employer should withdraw any rights or privileges reserved for recognised unions.
In his affidavit, Motshwarakgole argued that BOGOWU was a splinter union from his own union and that to hurt him, the ruling party sponsored its breakaway.
Motshwarakgole also argued that his union has an agreement with the employer that recognises his union as the exclusive union for the cadre of workers currently being represented by BOGOWU.
BOGOWU, however, had raised a number of preliminary points, arguing that Motshwarakgole had no locus standi as there were no resolutions of his union, NALCGPWU, authorising Motshwarakgole to represent
BOGOWU had also challenged the attorneys, Collins Chilisa Consultants, arguing there was no power of attorney authorising them to represent the union.
Interestingly, BOGOWU argued that NALGCPWU had valid recognition by the employer, either in terms of section 48 of Trade Unions and Employers Organisation Act, or Section 46 of the Public Service Act, and therefore no locus standi.
BOGOWU also argued that the agreement signed with the employer in 1975 was dated and thus no longer applicable and enforceable and therefore invalid.
However, the square up between the two main rivals was diffused even before they could face each other in court when the Industrial Court dismissed the matter.
This would have been the second time Motshwarakgole’s union had attempted to boot BOGOWU out of the bargaining council and salary talks, having made the first attempt during the early talks to resuscitate the bargaining council as NALCGPWU protested BOGOWU’s presence.
BOGOWU’s response to the move resulted in chaos as it also challenged the recognition of other union parties at the table, forcing NALCGPWU and Botswana Public Employees Union to rush to the courts to protect their rights, which they felt were now at stake.