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Unions, DPSM salary negotiations quarrel resumes

NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE
Public Sector workers
The public sector unions are worried about the conduct and sluggish actions of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) that run contrary to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s commitment and pronouncement toward salary negotiations.

Cooperating unions coordinator, Tobokani Rari, says  in fact, the DPSM’s actions are not on. In a letter addressed to participating unions, Rari noted that following the delay in the resuscitation of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), owing to government’s resolve to derecognised public sector trade unions, and the consequent lawsuit by the public sectors unions, they agreed with DPSM to prioritise salary talks.

“The parties agreed that the negotiations process should commence outside the PSBC and should rather be carried out in accordance with each trade unions’ individual collective agreement.

“Following this, DPSM in November last year wrote to each individual public sector union proposing for the start of bilateral salary negotiations for the fiscal years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. It further indicated that the negotiations should have been completed by December 24, 2018,” he noted. The six public sector unions who are leading members of BOFEPUSU are Botswana Land Boards Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Botswana Sectors of Educators’ Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teachers’ Union (BTU) and the National Amalgamated Local Central and Parastatal Workers’ Union (NALCPWU), Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) and Botswana Nurses Union (BONU).

The six agreed to be engaged for the said negotiations as a bloc like DPSM requested.  However, Rari pointed out that they met with DPSM on December 18, 2018 for the commencement of negotiations, but it was apparent that DPSM was not ready for negotiations to be concluded on December 24, 2018 as per their November correspondence.

Rari said DPSM did not submit their proposal paper soon as their mandate givers were unavailable. He added that both parties agreed that the salary increment proposal paper should be shared amongst the parties on or before January 14, 2019.

“At this meeting, parties also agreed to the appointment of a task team that would come up with draft rules of engagement and schedule of meetings.  The meeting as well agreed that there should be an independent chairperson of the negotiations, and the union party suggested the names of three potential chairs.  The employer was to later come up with its suggested names and contact them for the ultimate appointment of one.”

“Another meeting was convened on January 11, 2019 to look at the issues of the Rules of Engagement, the Independent Chairperson and the schedule of

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meetings.  At this meeting, it became apparent once again that DPSM was not ready for the commencement of the salary negotiations,” Rari explained.

He further stated that the employer once again indicated that they will not be able to meet the agreed deadline of exchanging the salary increment proposals of January 14, 2019 saying DPSM indicated it was because they had not yet received the PEMANDU report, and it had an important internal engagement that was to take place on January 28, 2019. He added that DPSM stated that their proposal paper could only be exchanged on the same week the internal meeting would be held.

He pointed out that they (trade unions) did not agree to the extension of the deadline, indicating that there was need to expedite the process of negotiations so that the product of those negotiation process be part of the pronouncement during the budget speech as was promised by Masisi.  “In view of the mismatch between HE’s pronouncements and the sluggish conduct and attitude of DPSM, the presidents of the cooperating public sector unions will meet HE today  (Wednesday January 16, 2019) to seek to understand what is going on regarding the apparent mismatch.

A way forward will then be mapped following the meeting mismatch. We appeal to members and the public service in general to remain calm and focused as leadership deals with this matter,” he added. In a press statement, the director of DPSM management, Goitseone Mosalakatane stated that preparations for salary negotiations were ongoing.

She said prior to the resuscitation of the PSBC, government appointed PEMANDU Associates, a Malaysian private consultancy company for the provision of consultancy services to review of public service remuneration systems, public service performance management and determination of the role of the DPSM in public service reform. “DPSM pledged to share with the Public Sector Unions the PEMANDU report by the end of December 2018.

The consultant has not completed the assignment as yet; therefore the report has not been availed to the Public Service Unions. Although the report is expected to advise and guide the parties on key areas of negotiations, we wish to assure the public that its non-availability will not stall salary negotiations,” she noted.

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