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Gov’t, unions to kickstart fresh wage talks

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
Goitseone Mosalakatane
Government and public service trade unions are scheduled to kick off a fresh round of wage negotiations under the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) next month, with workers reportedly skeptical of securing meaningful concessions.

Appearing before a Parliamentary committee this week, trade unionists said the employer, the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM), had mastered the “art of delay” in resuscitating the PBSC.  The said PBSC meetings should have started by September, but government has been coming up with excuses to delay the process, it has emerged.

Appearing before the same committee, newly appointed DPSM director, Goitseone Mosalakatane, conceded that the parties could have started the process in September/October 2020 but said this failed due to the facilitators’ “tight schedule”.  “Consequently, this process will only commence in November 2020,” she said. “I would like to reiterate that government is committed to the resuscitation of the PSBC and DPSM will wholeheartedly continue to make efforts to overcome the various challenges that keep cropping up and delaying the process of reviving this key component of harmonious labour relations in the Public Service.  “We equally request the unions to contribute to constructive employment relations.”

The DPSM boss also said all efforts have been made to get the unions to allow a technical committee to proceed with the crafting of the PSBC’s constitution.  “In a number of instances, the parties agreed to proceed only for the unions to stop the process.

“In some unions they would object to the presence of the two cooperating unions, in others they would insist that they would not continue until courts issued judgement on certain pending matters,” she said.

Mmegi has learnt that the DPSM has not informed trade unions about the upcoming PSBC meeting in

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November.

 “However, the trade unions are preparing themselves because they want pending issues of salaries to be discussed.

“Again, there are lot of issues that came up during this COVID-19 pandemic and that will help us to be able to discuss issues of risk allowance and how jobs could be saved during this time.

“Workers are given unfair transfers and dismissals during this time as well,” a source within the unions said.

Responding to the DPSM, Ngami MP, Caterpillar Hikwama said it was important for both government and trade unions to work together to resuscitate the PSBC.  “Government is spending lot of money in courts because at times it is failing to negotiate with trade unions in good faith,” he said. “Don’t you think that the PSBC is important especially during COVID-19? I don’t think PSBC only benefits trade unions. Government does benefit and litigation could be avoided.”

Maun East MP, Goretetse Kekgonegile said government and trade unions could not work together if there is no PSBC since it helps welfare issues to be taken seriously by both parties.  “One of the reasons why government is always from time to time taken to court by unions is the failure to negotiate. It is time government departments take court orders seriously to avoid losing lots of money.  “I believe that the relationship between trade unions and DPSM will improve. Look at what is happening in schools now because some leaders in government at first failed to take into consideration suggestions by unions,” Kekgonegile said.



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