Mmegi Online :: The strike is on!
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Last Updated
Monday 24 April 2017, 03:05 am.
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The strike is on!

The strike is on! Civil servants started their 10-day strike today after government refused to give in to their demand for a 16 percent salary hike.
By Chandapiwa Baputaki and Greg Kelebonye
Staff Writers
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The strike is on!








Yesterday, hundreds of workers gathered at the Gaborone Secondary School grounds in the evening to be briefed on the strike rules agreed upon by government and the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU).

The strike rules were determined by Sam Leero, an independent mediator appointed by the Commissioner of Labour after the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and the union leaders failed to reach an agreement by Friday midnight. Some of the rules are:

All employees at Band D1 and below can go strike

Government will not pay the salaries of the striking workers for the 10 days of the strike

Government shall not dismiss any employee for striking

30% of essential services personnel (countrywide) shall remain working. This means that for every 10 employees, three shall remain to provide services.

Government may not engage anyone, even those from the disciplined forces to assist within 14 days of the strike
One of the issues in contention between the two parties has been government's insistence on provision of minimum service by non-essential personnel. Another centre of dispute has been government's demand that essential service workers should not participate in the strike. These include workers in health, electrical, fire, sewerage, transport and telecommunications services. However, after the intervention of the mediator, 30 percent of the essential services workers will be on duty.

However the unions have said that they are not happy with the mediator's ruling that veterinary workers should be included in the essential services

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category. The unions have queried the inclusion of head teachers and deputy heads at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions among those that should not strike. Veterinary services are not listed in the essential services schedule.

"We also still hold the conviction that the mediator erred, that he essentially amended the law, and we shall be consulting our attorneys with a view to taking the matter up with the courts," BOFEPUSU secretary general, Andrew Motsamai. He stated the Public Service Act does not classify school heads as senior managers as they are below the E1 band.

"According to the Public Service Act, only those in senior management at E2 salary scale and above cannot strike.

Those at D1 and below are not part of senior management and can strike. To be senior manager, one should have been appointed by the Permanent Secretary to the President or the President himself. But some of the school heads are at very low salary scales such as C band," he said.

Meanwhile, government has said it will not pay workers for the time that they are on strike. "The law says that government is not obliged to pay and we have come out in the open and declared that we will not pay the workers for those days," said DPSM director Festinah Bakwena. However BOFEPUSU has said that it will make payment of the salary for the days a condition for going back to work.

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