Trade unions are concerned that government does not want to align the salary adjustment for their members with those recently awarded to the disciplined forces.
The government is of the view that the salary adjustments extended to Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Botswana Police Service amongst others, are irrelevant to ongoing negotiations between employer and trade unions as forces are not governed by the Public Service Act which regulates the civil service.
The standoff on the matter has forced the six cooperating trade unions: Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union, Botswana Nurses Union, Botswana Teachers Union, Botswana Land boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union, National Amalgamated Local and Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union and Botswana Public Employees Union to evoke clause 12 of the rules of engagement that allows any of the parties to the negotiations to consult its mandate givers. Resultantly, the negotiations have been adjourned for five days and are scheduled to resume on August 9, 2019.
“It is unfortunate that merely because of the artificial divide created by four constitutive statutes, the Public Service Act, the Botswana Defence Force Act, the Police Act and the Prisons Act, the employer party fails to appreciate that these statutes govern employees of the same government, who serve the same public and are resourced from the same pool.
Any decision that unreasonably favours one or more of these categories of government employees that excludes one or more of the others, is inevitably invidious to the excluded party (parties), and therefore constitutes an unfair labour practice,” a source said.
“This is the reason the salary structures of the disciplined have historically mirrored that of the “Public Service”. Indeed, public sector salary adjustments are routinely extended to the disciplined forces.” The unions had proposed that in line with the dispensation that was extended to the disciplined forces, the value of A3 salary band should be improved to that of A2 salary band, which will have a ripple effect on the rest of the salary scales/bands in the public service. The Monitor has learnt that trade unions want government to move every cadre one band up the public sector salary structure; “This…… means that A3 becomes A2,
Below D1, the adjustment will narrow the gap between public sector cadres and their equivalents in the disciplined forces by one band. For instance, the entry band for fresh university graduates would move from C3 to C2 compared to D4 for the disciplined forces.”
According to recommendations of the De Villiers Commission, which reviewed the state of affairs, public servants should be provided with accommodation or be paid a housing allowance of 15% of basic salary in lieu of accommodation.
It is also found out that accommodation is a big source of pay iniquity between the public service and the disciplined forces, and within the Public Service Act governed part of the public service.
To reduce the gap between public sector pay and the open citizen market, public sector salaries should be adjusted as follows: 20% for Grades A and B, 10% for Grades C and D, and 15% for Grades E and F (additional cost of P1.3 billion per annum).
The employers’ response according to a source was that 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.
“The unions claim that the police and army training courses are equivalent to a diploma course.
Provision for the salaries of the disciplined forces were made in the calculations of the February salary adjustments. The government says the disciplined forces have their own salary structures not under Public Service Act,” the source said.
Trade unions also say they are disappointed that the employer party uses its knowledge and expertise to create confusion in order to defend unjustifiable discrimination against Public Service Act -governed employees of government.
The trade unions say they will not accept the egregious levels of iniquity and discrimination inherent to the dispensation extended to the disciplined forces to the exclusion of the rest of the public service.