Government's decision to adjust salaries for soldiers was met with excitement across the barracks, but unfortunately the well-received change has come with divisions.
Dubbed ‘Ntlole’, the salary adjustment, however, has brought more misery to Botswana Defence Force (BDF) nurses who are crying foul that the increments brought little upward adjustments due to their lowly ranks.
The C3 to C1 scale adjustments were rejected by BDF immediately after they were made.
The BDF Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) nurses who claim to have been stagnant on one scale, C3, for years accuse the army for ignoring the institution’s progression policy.
The nurses who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation told The Monitor that whilst celebrating the adjustment with other employees, sadly they received letters instructing them to return back to C1 scale salaries they were given end of April.
The move was allegedly reversed, as their lower ranks did not allow them to have been moved to C1 scale contrary to what was done systematically.
This did not bode well with NCO nurses who are now accusing the military of maltreatment that they alleged to have been systematically going on for years.
They said the people who joined the army with them managed to progress well up the ranks, while they have been stagnant on C3 scale. The nurses accuse the BDF of lack of professionalism, adding that the army also ignored the institution’s progression policy.
The nurses said after joining the army from the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) it took them a year to progress from C4 to C3, a process that should instead take only six months.
They added that of those who joined the army with them, a majority of them are now on C1 scale, but sadly due to their lower ranks the nurses have remained stagnant at C3 scale. Furthermore, the nurses said their minimum due could have been at least at C2 scale before the salary adjustment, but the force has been denying them.
The nurses, who are now fed up with BDF mistreatment have threatened mass resignation.
They revealed to having a pending case concerning nursing allowances that has been dragging on for more than a
Asked about nurses’ concerns, director of protocol and public affairs, Colonel Tebo Dikole said salaries and allowances of members of BDF were determined by the Defence Council with Regulation 41 sub-section 1 and 2 of the BDF Act.
Dikole stated that it stipulated that the Defence Council shall make recommendations to the President with respect to paying allowances, entitlements, discretionary payments and awards or decorations for members of the regular force.
He said the provision under this section may also provide for the way in which such are to be paid, impose conditions or restrictions on the making of such payments, awards or decorations.
Dikole said salary adjustments of BDF members, including nurses do not hinge on some members being unhappy as alleged.
He said the BDF has implemented the unitary pay structure that entailed alignment of salary scales with the military pay structure or by rank, which was approved through the public service management directive No 11 of 2003.
“The effective date of the implementation could have been back in April 1, 2004, but owing to lack of funds, the unitary pay structure could not be implemented fully,” Dikole said.
“However, it was partially implemented through a de-linking exercise of 2012, which targeted only a few professions including nursing within the defence force.”
He said it was against this background that the Defence Council approved this realignment with the unitary pay structure that effected on April 1, 2019.
Dikole noted that the implementation of the structure has, however, terminated the de-linking of pay from rank and rescinded the Presidential directive CAB 15(B) 2011, which implemented the de-linking exercise.
“Those members who were de-linked to salary scales above the envisaged entry point have been awarded a personal right whilst those who were de-linked to salary scales below the unitary pay structure entry points have been elevated accordingly.
This implementation has no negative effects on members’ allowances,” Dikole explained.
He went on to say promotions and progressions were determined by vacancies and availability of funds.