The Botswana Land Board and Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) boycotted President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s meeting with Public Service Unions presidents on Wednesday.
The meeting was scheduled to discuss a way forward on the pending salary increment negotiations and resuscitation of the Pubic Service Bargaining Council. BLLHAWU secretary general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa told Mmegi Masisi’s administration has not changed from Khama’s style when dealing with workers and trade unions. He said Masisi, just like Khama, was not prepared for functionality of labour structures.
“Masisi’s administration is not prepared to improve the welfare and conditions of service of workers. He will rather for elections, make rhetoric that he is willing to work with unions, when the opposite is happening.
“If Masisi truly valued relations with workers, then he must give the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) the freedom to objectively work with unions, rather than summon Trade Unions to come and beg him. Masisi, just like Khama, enjoys being begged,” he said. Motshegwa pointed out that since the President is aware of the challenges in labour relations, and is aware of what should be done, as stated he should simply give the DPSM a mandate. He explained that they decided that they will not be cartooned and paraded before the media for the President to fulfill his political strategy of being seen to be working well with Trade Unions, while to the contrary he had instructed DPSM to be difficult in engaging with unions. He added that they were told earlier on that the President wanted that meeting to be in Gantsi where he had engagements.
The unions were to incur driving and accommodation costs in Gantsi just to go and beg the President, he said. Motshegwa said all they wanted was to meet over salary negotiations and the resuscitation of the Bargaining Council, and not have to meet with Masisi in the display of the media as he did to sell his
“Where we are now is, we are waiting for government to come to the table for negotiations on salaries.
The government has an obligation pursuant to ratifying Convention 98 (Protection of Rights to Organise and Collective Bargaining) to bargain with unions in good faith towards the betterment of welfare of workers of this country who happen to be the creators of its wealth,” he said.
Meanwhile, giving his feedback on yesterday’s meeting with Masisi, the cooperating unions coordinator Tabokani Rari said they met with the President because there was a mismatch in what he was telling the President about the salary increment negotiations and the resuscitation of the Pubic Service Bargaining Council from what was really happening on the ground.
He said they wanted to meet the President so that they could know if he was still committed to his promises towards the Trade Unions and the public service.
“The President said he was committed to his promises. He assured us that by the end of April there would be salary increments per agreement between the Trade Unions and the DPSM. He showed great disappointment with the DPSM for stalling the whole process.
He said he would make follow-ups and promised to make a directive towards DPSM to give us the PEMANDU report before January 28, 2019 so that the negotiations can run smoothly,” he said. However, Rari pointed out that there were shadows of doubt amidst the public service.
He appealed to the public service employees and the general public to be patient, saying Trade Unions were working tirelessly to ensure the negotiations run smoothly and for salaries to increase by the beginning of the next financial year.