Bargaining council leaders see no interference


The Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) leadership says there is no interference in its operations.

The startling statement, coming on the back of Justice Michael Leburu’s Monday ruling that President Ian Khama has no power to decide on the conditions of public service including salaries, was made at the inaugural stakeholders forum yesterday.

Giving an overview of the PSBC – the general secretary Willard Ulaula said all parties respected the rules of the proceedings.

Participants queried that submission based on the just released judgment where the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) had approached the court seeking definition of the role of the PSBC.

On several occasions union parties have taken issue with statements made outside the council, decrying preemption of the process, explained one participant. 

To this Ulaula said the greatest challenge facing the Council was that collective bargaining was relatively new in the public service.

“Collective bargaining as a new phenomenon in the public service vary and it is a complex process, and this is the only structure we have in the country where there is nothing to benchmark against,” he added.

So far there are proposed constitutional reviews and other procedures to facilitate effective collective bargaining.

Ulaula further explained that the process was at a stage where both parties were considering what needed to be reviewed.  Litigations between the employer and recognised trade unions, unpredictable socio-economic environment, high threshold requirement for admission of recognised trade unions as well as fragmentation or disintegration of trade unions as a global trend were identified as challenges to the Council.

For his part BOFEPUSU deputy secretary general Ketlhalefile Motshegwa appealed for the fast tracking of the designation of sectoral bargaining structures as well as the establishment of workplace consultative structures in the public service.

“The importance of such structures in assisting to create and nurture harmonious industrial relations in the public service cannot be overemphasised,” said Motshegwa.

He suggested that negotiations be aligned with the budget process as well as provision of continuous capacity building and protecting the role of the Council to ensure autonomy and integrity.

The PSBC chairperson Tsetsele Fatana expressed concern over the misconception that the Council existed solely for salary bargaining.

“The Council exists for just more than that. We have realised an information gap regarding the job of the Council, and we would like to have more of these stakeholder forums,” she said. 

The Council has been established as a negotiating forum.

However, the PSBC constitution allows consultation on matters relating to policy issues, legislation or proposed legislation-affecting parties to the Council.

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