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Unions mull over strike action

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
2011 Strike. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Trade union members are threatening to embark on a strike if the employer does not meet their demands for salary adjustments.

The general membership of Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU), Botswana Land boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) demand the same wage increase model applied in effecting salary increases for the disciplined forces to be extended to public officers.

On the contrary government is of the view that the salary adjustments for disciplined forces are irrelevant to the ongoing negotiations between employer and trade unions as forces are not governed by the Public Service Act (PSA) that regulates civil service.  This forced trade unions to evoke clause 12 of the rules of engagement that allows any of the parties to the negotiations to consult its mandate givers on the way forward.

“The general membership of the trade unions told the leadership that if the employer does not meets their demand then they should organise weekly demonstrations to show displeasure and encourage members to vote wisely in the coming general elections. Our consultation with the members ends on Friday and our last meetings will be on Friday,” said a source. 

Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) had recommend a push of salaries in the public service to equate them with what the market pays by between 10 and 15%, as the same as how salary increases for the armed forces were handled.

It would mean that all grades be moved up one grade to close the gap in the civil service relative to the armed forces salary increase dispensation. Positions of the parties following the negotiations:

 

Employer Party’s Response

Reject. PSA has no jurisdiction over the disciplined forces. Their salary upgrades follow a series of reviews that all concluded they are grossly underpaid in relation to both the weight of their responsibilities and the weight of military training.

 

Union Party’s reaction

Disappointed that the employer party uses its knowledge and expertise to create confusion in order to defend unjustifiable discrimination against PSA-governed employees of government.

Efforts to get comment from Tobokani Rari were not successful and he was reported to be outside the country.

 

BOFEPUSU

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The Botswana Federation of Public Private Parastatals Unions (BOFEPUSU) is headed for a split ahead of the current salary negotiations that is resuming on Monday next week.

For the first time,  the National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) has refused to consult its members openly with other trade unions and rather it is consulting its members indoors. The new development of NALCGPWU according to a source has however shocked other affiliates of BOFEPUSU.

“We smelt a rat when the negotiators asked the mandate givers and in this case it was trade union presidents on what they should do since the employer is refusing to be reasonable to their conditions. We told the negotiators that the issues needs general membership and they must be consulted openly on the matter but Motshwarakgole immediately said their union has its own culture of doing things and it has to consult with its counsel. Just after few hours NALCGPWU told some BOFEPUSU leaders that the council had decided to hold its own meetings with their members,” another source said.

The source said they have learnt that Motshwarakgole is having some secret meetings with some members of the ruling party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

However, Motshwarakgole dismissed the issue that he is working with some BDP leaders to compromise the welfare of workers.

“Our constitution as NALCGPWU is clear. We have the national executive which consists of 18 people and for us to get a mandate, we have to consult our general council which has 120 members from 39 regions. I

f we go against the laid structures then we will be wrong. I don’t know what confuses our comrades and it is wrong for them to think that we could compromise the welfare of the union this time around when we have fought bigger battles together.

We have a mandate from our general council and we will discuss it with them at our Saturday meeting,” Motshwarakgole said.

He said unlike other unions whose constitutions allow them to hold consultative meetings in halls, with them it is different.



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